Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)



First Advisor

Charles A. Odonkor

Second Advisor

Jonathan N. Grauer


It is well known that racial and ethnic disparities exist across medicine. The goal of this review is to characterize existing challenges in rehabilitation medicine for Black and Hispanic patients in the United States. Specifically, this thesis aims to highlight disparities in access to care, rehabilitation and recovery outcomes (functional, physical, and cognitive), quality of life, and community reintegration for this population. A literature search was conducted across three online databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, and MEDLINE) for sources related to Black, African American, and Hispanic patient health disparities published within an 11-year span, December 1, 2009 and December 1, 2020. Research regarding disparities in this area often presented mixed findings. Hispanic and Black persons face disparities including lower utilization of surgical procedures, higher complication rates and in-hospital mortality, lower volume of rehabilitation care, worse rehabilitation outcomes, poorer community reintegration, and employment rates. They also reported lower rates of research participation. Hispanic and Black patients are disproportionately disadvantaged compared to non-Hispanic White patients when it comes to rehabilitation care and services in the United States. This review highlights disparities in some key rehabilitation domains for Black and Hispanic individuals and proposes potential solutions to address them. Understanding this population and the disparities they face presents a unique opportunity to improve policy, public health, and research to minimize these gaps.


This thesis is restricted to Yale network users only. This thesis is permanently embargoed from public release.