Preventing Unequal Health Outcomes in COVID-19: A Systematic Review of Past Interventions

Beth E. Williams, Karli K. Kondo, Chelsea K. Ayers, Devan Kansagara, Sarah Young, Somnath Saha

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We sought to identify interventions that reduced disparities in health outcomes in infectious disease outbreaks or natural disasters in the United States to understand whether these interventions could reduce health disparities in the current COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: We searched MEDLINE and other databases to May 2020 to find studies that examined interventions to mitigate health inequalities in previous infectious disease pandemics or disasters. We assessed study quality using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale and the Critical Appraisal Skills Program (CASP) Checklist for Qualitative Studies. Results: We included 14 articles (12 studies) and 5 Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stakeholder meeting articles on pandemic influenza preparedness in marginalized populations. Studies called for intervention and engagement before pandemic or disaster onset. Several studies included interventions that could be adapted to COVID-19, including harnessing technology to reach disadvantaged populations, partnering with trusted community liaisons to deliver important messaging around disease mitigation, and using culturally specific communication methods and messages to best reach marginalized groups. Discussion: To our knowledge this is the first systematic review to examine interventions to mitigate health inequities during an infectious disease pandemic. However, given that we identified very few disparities-focused infectious disease intervention studies, we also included studies from the disaster response literature, which may not be as generalizable to the current context of COVID-19. Overall, community outreach and tailored communication are essential in disease mitigation. More research is needed to evaluate systemic interventions that target the distal determinants of poor health outcomes among marginalized populations during pandemics and natural disasters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)856-871
Number of pages16
JournalHealth Equity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021


  • COVID-19
  • health disparities
  • health inequities
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health Information Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Preventing Unequal Health Outcomes in COVID-19: A Systematic Review of Past Interventions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this