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Health Equity Research Virtual Site Visit (VSV): Duke Health

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Duke Health

Duke Health seeks to advance understanding and create new paradigms for health equity interventions and new strategies for bridging cultural differences through cutting-edge research, deep commitment to community engagement, exemplary education and training, and forward-looking policy development through partnerships with underserved populations.

In addition, Duke Health strives to transform medicine and health locally and globally through innovative scientific research, rapid translation of breakthrough discoveries, educating future clinical and scientific leaders, advocating and practicing evidence-based medicine to improve community health, and leading efforts to eliminate health inequalities.  Broadly, Duke Health seeks to transform health care, teaching, and research to benefit society, through the five values of excellence, safety, integrity, diversity, and teamwork.

Here are four overview videos of health equity at Duke.

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The Big Picture

Duke addresses health equity through clinical service, research, education, and community engagement. To facilitate and coordinate these efforts, the Duke Center for Community and Population Health Improvement, a multi-disciplinary center, was formed. The Center leverages academic, health system, and multi-sector community partnerships to improve community and population health. The Center conducts research and pragmatic programs to understand and address key biomedical, behavioral, and contextual health determinants to improve community and population health and well-being.  Improving health equity and eliminating disparities in health are a major focus of Center activities. In 2014, Durham received the Culture of Health Prize from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which honors and elevates U.S. communities that are making great strides in their journey toward better health.

Clinical Service

Clinical service at Duke is patient- and community-focused, with health equity woven through “bench to bedside to population” endeavors. Duke recognizes the importance of social determinants of health as critical contributors to health and health care. Duke’s clinical services that seek to address health disparities include a series of school-based health centers and neighborhood clinics built in partnership with our federally qualified health center and the neighborhoods in which they operate, and chronic disease management programs for Medicaid participants in their homes.  Duke reaches across many sectors to improve efficacy at individual level and build capacity at community level. Duke’s clinical service works across these sectors to increase access to health and wellness resources, to decrease the gap that creates disparities.


Improving health and well-being for all people is an integral goal of Duke Health’s research. Duke’s research works to achieve health equity through understanding disparities and intervening on those disparities and inequities, both clinical and social, to improve lives. Health equity research across the translation spectrum, disciplines, and community and academic lines is paramount at Duke. The newly launched Community Connections and Collaborations Core (C4), housed within the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Award and the Center for Community and Population Health Improvement, facilitates equitable, authentic, and robust community engaged research. C4 offers a suite of extensive resources aimed to build capacity, facilitate connections and fostering authentic communication between academic and community partners to improve community and population health across the translational research spectrum (T1-4).

More Resources: Research

  • Spratt, SE, et al. Methods and initial findings from the Durham Diabetes Coalition: Integrating geospatial health technology and community interventions to reduce death and disability. (2015)
  • Journal of Clinical & Translational Endocrinology 2 (2015) 26e36
  • Spratt, SE, Feinglos, MN, & Willis, JM. Barriers to care for patients with diabetes in Durham, North Carolina, why are we withholding life-sustaining medications from the patients who need them the most? (2015) Expert Review of Endocrinology & Metabolism, 10:5, 459-461, DOI: 10.1586/17446651.2015.1069704
  • Thomas KL, Hernandez AF, Dai D, Heidenreich P, Fonarow G, Peterson ED, Yancy CW. Association of Race/Ethnicity with Clinical Risk Factors, Quality of Care, and Acute Outcomes in Patients Hospitalized with Heart Failure. Am Heart J. Apr. 2011; 161 (4) 746-754
  • Silberberg, M, Castrucci, B. Addressing Social Determinants of Health.  In Michener JL, Denise K, and Castrucci B. Practical Playbook: Public Health and Primary Care Together. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016, Chapter 14.


Health equity threads through all levels of education, to all types of learners, at Duke Health, including the finding, recruiting, and training of students, mentoring of medical residents, and continuing education for faculty. Multiple education opportunities exist throughout Duke to improve health equity through the understanding of population health, health disparities, social determinants of health, leadership, and community engagement.  Understanding health care and wellness within patients’ context is paramount to providing the best possible care.

More Resources: Education

Sheline, B, Tran, A, Jackson, J, Peyser, B, Rogers, S, & Engle, D. The Primary Care Leadership Track at the Duke University School of Medicine: Creating Change Agents to Improve Population Health. 2014. Academic Medicine, volume 89, 1370-1374.