UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Five ways ‘health scholars’ are complicit in upholding health inequities, and how to stop Shahram, Sana Z.


Health scholars have been enthusiastic in critique of health inequities, but comparatively silent on the ways in which our own institutions, and our actions within them, recreate and retrench systems of oppression. The behaviour of health scholars within academic institutions have far reaching influences on the health-related workforce, the nature of evidence, and the policy solutions within our collective imaginations. Progress on health equity requires moving beyond platitudes like ‘equity, diversity and inclusion’ statements and trainings towards actually being and doing differently within our day-to-day practices. Applying complex systems change theory to identify, examine and shift mental models, or habits of thought (and action), that are keeping us stuck in our efforts to advance health equity is a promising approach. This paper introduces five common mental models that are preventing meaningful equity-oriented systems transformation within academia and offers ideas for shifting them towards progressively more productive, and authentic, actions by health scholars to advance health equity across systems.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)