Directed Reading: Race, Ethnicity And Culture In Health (REACH)

Course Number
CHL7001H S5
7000 (Reading Courses & Research Projects)
Course Instructor(s)
Ananya Tina Banerjee

Course Description

Public health surveillance is the cornerstone of health promotion interventions. The assessment of ethnicity and race in public health surveillance has been fundamental to the reduction of preventable excesses in poor health among ethnic and racialized populations of Canada. A large number of factors including culture contribute to ethnic and racial disparities in health status. Health care professionals, researchers, and policymakers have believed for some time that access to culturally safe care is the centerpiece in the elimination of these health disparities. Culturally safe intervention studies have shown improvements in the health of ethno-racial groups. If properly designed and implemented, these interventions could be used to reduce the ethnic and racial disparities in public health. Successful features of health promotion interventions include the use of multifaceted, intense approaches, culturally (safe) and linguistically appropriate methods, improved access to care, tailoring, the establishment of partnerships with stakeholders, and community involvement. While there is clear evidence that health varies by ethnicity and race, questions remain about how best to intervene in these processes is one of the most important challenges facing health promotion and healthcare practice today.

Taking an Anti-Oppression lens, this course is designed for graduate students engaged in public health and health-related work with the largest ethnic minority communities (e.g. South Asians, Southeast Asians, First Nations, Afro-Caribbeans etc.) in Canada. The course draws on a variety of perspectives from core public health disciplines: epidemiology, social and behavioural health sciences, and health services. The course highlights the evidence on disparities in morbidity and mortality between and among ethnic and racial groups in Canada. It emphasizes multi-level factors that may influence population group differences in health outcomes and examines the explanatory frameworks proposed to understand and explain why such differences often persist over and above adjustments for socioeconomic status, age, and gender. The course will provide an in-depth understanding of what is meant by culturally sensitive/competent/appropriate/safe healthcare/health promotion and how to provide this care. Several examples of culturally sensitive and safe interventions designed to reduce ethnic and racial differences in the incidence and/or prevalence of disease will be demonstrated and discussed. Overall, the course is an evidence-based, individual and community based learning program, which focuses on how to deliver quality care to ethnic and racial populations. It is designed for both health practitioners and research-oriented learners.


  • Three Reflection Reports (30%)

There are three written reflections required in this course. These reflections are intended to help students focus in on what they are learning (or not learning), identify issues or concerns on their mind, explore an idea more deeply, or in other ways enhance their learning about the course topics, themselves, and others.

  • Critique of a Study Examining Health Disparities in an Ethnic and Racialized Group (30%)

The main objective of this paper is to critique the findings of the article and its attempt to explain specific ethnic and racial disparities in public health based on the explanatory models discussed in the course.

  • Design a Women’s Xchange Proposal for a Culturally Safe Intervention (30%)

Students will form groups to design a culturally safe intervention to influence (individual or organizational/community) level behaviour (e.g. physical activity, breast cancer screening, medication use etc.) to a target ethnic and racialized group in a specific geographic area. The topic can be on any health and social behaviour. This not an essay or a literature review but rather a project proposal that can be applied to the Women’s Xchange-

  • Class Attendance & Participation (10%)