Denver Health researchers help spur action toward advancing DEI in health care

May 28, 2024

DENVER — A new research paper, Power Dynamics Perpetuate DEI Inaction: A Qualitative Study of Community Health Clinic Teams,” published in the Annals of Family Medicine explores the ways understanding race and role power dynamics within community health clinic teams can inform future efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion within health care settings.

The research, led by Laura Ramzy, Ph.D., psychologist at Denver Health, consisted of interviews collected in 2021 with community health clinic support staff members. Findings indicated that people of color face hidden challenges and that understanding race and role power dynamics within care teams, including experiences of staff members with less power, is critical to advancing DEI in health care.

“Racial inequities are pervasive in society and within institutions, including health care,” Ramzy said. “Hearing the experiences and perspectives of staff most impacted by these issues has been essential in identifying effective opportunities to advance DEI initiatives within our own teams at Denver Health.”

The study named the continued advancement of DEI initiatives at Denver Health over the last three years, including:

  • The launching of the Workforce Development Center to increase economic mobility into better paying jobs for Denver Health employees.
  • The formation of Denver Health’s Office of Health Equity, which works to ensure all people in Denver have the services and resources needed to attain their full health potential, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, immigration status and other social factors.
  • Creation and distribution of an equitable hiring toolkit to more than 700 leaders at Denver Health.
  • Hiring a chief DEIB officer and other DEIB staff to implement DEI initiatives at Denver Health.

“Our mission as a nationally recognized safety-net Learning Health System is to use research to improve all aspects of our care delivery,” Romana Hasnain-Wynia, chief of academic affairs and public health at Denver Health, said. “This study is a perfect example of how research enables us to ask hard questions and implement meaningful changes that directly impact our health system and the patients we serve.”

A follow-up study was conducted with clinic support staff members regarding their perspectives on what aspects of recently implemented DEI initiatives have meaningfully impacted psychological safety and belonging, and findings will help provide guidance to other health care organizations working to increase team cohesiveness and strengthen equity for employees.


About Denver Health

Denver Health is a comprehensive health and hospital system that provides high-quality care and proudly serves as the city’s safety net hospital. For more than 160 years, Denver Health has been guided by its mission to serve the people of Denver, to educate the next generation of health care professionals and to engage in research and community partnerships to better deliver the health care needs of our patients while strengthening our community.