University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

The Interplay of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Addressing Health Inequities

Lisa Steinkamp, PT, PhD, MBA; Daniel Deuel, MA, SPT; Maurice Lucre, BS, SPT; Pedro Zavala, BS, SPT

WMJ. 2021;120(Suppl 1):S54-S58.

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Purpose: The terms diversity, equity, and inclusion have become part of a national conversation as we come to grips with longstanding societal negligence. But what do these terms mean with respect to health care, and are we manifesting them in our medical practices?

Methods: Using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index and Google, we mapped the locations of physical therapy and primary care clinics within the 4 most diverse Wisconsin counties—Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, and Dane—which also had high Social Vulnerability Indexes, to assess health equity in these communities.

Results: Most physical therapy practices are located outside of vulnerable communities. While primary care is much more proficient at having a presence in these neighborhoods, there are still absences in some areas.

Conclusions: Our analysis suggests that physical therapy services in Wisconsin are often inaccessible to members of vulnerable communities: a matter of equity. Efforts to improve equity via patient access must entail interventions that address the other components of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We recommend that other health care professionals conduct similar analyses in order to determine whether we, as a health care community, are positioning ourselves to best service our patients.

Author Affiliations: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wis (Steinkamp, Deuel, Lucre, Zavala).
Corresponding Author: Lisa Steinkamp, PT, PhD, MBA, 5175 Medical Sciences Center, 1300 University Ave, Madison, WI 53706; phone 608.263.9427; email
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
Funding/Support: None declared.


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