First Advisor

William York

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology and University Honors






COVID-19 (Disease), African Americans -- Medical care -- United States, Discrimination in medical care -- United States, Racism in medicine -- United States




In this review of scholarship on healthcare inequality, as well as recent scholarship focused on COVID-19, we find there are clear racial disparities within healthcare, seen within previous trends, as well as the current pandemic. Minorities have historically been at greater risk during prior health crises, as well as being at risk for various underlying health conditions, and now, there are higher rates of infection and mortality amongst minority groups.

Socioeconomic factors play an incredibly important role in these disparities, and much of the current discourse does regard socioeconomic status as a primary factor in these trends. However, we find that there is a layer of inequality extending beyond socioeconomic status that is due to systemic racism within healthcare.

The complex notion of systemic racism can be further broken down into three primary categories that will be discussed in this thesis: historical, interpersonal, and institutional, all of which are connected, but have contributed to systemic racism in their own unique way, thus requiring their own unique solutions to alleviate racial inequality within healthcare and COVID-19.

Historical causes require alleviating mistrust of healthcare through increasing minority representation in healthcare and public outreach to underserved communities. Adapting medical education to systemic racism can improve interpersonal relationships between physicians and minority patients. Finally, to promote true, systemic change, institutional causes must be addressed, through the proper allocation and funding of resources to minority communities, but also with the conscientious provision of healthcare that acknowledges systemic racism in its practice.


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