How the ABFM will Address Health Equity
The American Board of Family Medicine (ABFM) is committed to a broad and sustained strategy to address the challenge of health equity. Pervasive health disparities in the U.S. and around the world have been amplified by the COVID pandemic and following the murder of George Floyd, underscoring a legacy of racial injustice. The ABFM’s mission and vision include a goal of “Optimal health and health care for all people and all communities that family physicians serve,” as outlined in its 2019 Strategic Plan. In recognition of a fundamental need for change, ABFM has recently implemented a series of changes aimed at increasing equity at multiple levels and contributing to the elimination of health disparities.
In June, ABFM launched a Health Equity Performance Improvement (PI) activity. Modeled after the Self-Directed PI activity, this PI activity allows family physicians to tailor their approach to their specific practice or community needs. It also provides a variety of resources to support Diplomates in tackling these issues – from reviewing differences in clinical quality among groups who historically have experienced disparities, to both practice and community-level assessments and interventions to address social determinants of health.
ABFM is also working toward the development of a Self-Assessment certification activity for physicians to assess their own knowledge of health disparities and their underlying causes. We are hopeful to partner with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), to utilize their excellent educational materials on health equity, developed by family physicians as part of Family Medicine for America’s Health (FMAHealth) Initiative.
For the past seven years, ABFM has collected data on Diplomate race and ethnicity and conducted Differential Item Functioning (DIF) analysis in order to assess whether bias exists in any of its examination questions. The DIF process will now extend to questions in the Family Medicine Certification Longitudinal Assessment (FMCLA) pilot and the Sports Medicine examination. If any disparities are found in examination questions, ABFM will remove these items from the pool of eligible questions.
Finally, ABFM is committed to achieving greater diversity among its Board of Directors, volunteers and staff. ABFM will focus not only on gender and minorities under-represented in medicine, but also on geography (e.g. rural or frontier practice) and kind of employment (independent, employed, FQHC, etc), as well as physicians who are first generation in college in their families and who represent the LGBTQ+ community.
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