Health Equality

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ATS Health Equality Initiatives

To read about how the individual ATS Committees have incorporated health equality into their activities, please select a Committee:

Awards Committee

  • Changed the requirements of the Public Service Award and World Lung Health Award to add a special emphasis on efforts that have the potential to eliminate gender, racial, ethnic, or economic health disparities worldwide.
  • Renamed the ATS Awards the ‘Respiratory Health Awards given by the American Thoracic Society’ to demonstrate that the Society is honoring and recognizing those who have in some way contributed and are still contributing to the respiratory health of all people. For more information, click here.

Clinicians Advisory Committee

Clinical Practice Committee

  • Billing and Coding: Educating the membership on proper coding and billing, as well as advocating for appropriate valuation/reimbursement for pulmonary, critical care and sleep procedures is essential to all providers to continue to provide care to all patients, including patients who experience barriers to care.

Documents Development and Implementation Committee (DDIC)

  • For all Official ATS Documents, the Documents Editor will include in his comments a request for the authors to consider whether any of their key conclusions or recommendations would differ if the issue of health equality was considered. If so, the authors will be asked to discuss this within the document and revise the conclusion or recommendation accordingly. 
  • Beginning in 2014, the annual Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop a clinical practice guideline will state that applicants should describe in their proposal how they plan to incorporate the issue of health equality into their guideline.

Education Committee

  • Questions on health equality that relate to the disease topics in the 2014 Core Curriculum were submitted as a part of the 2014 Maintenance of Certification (MOC) Part II modules
  • All presenters have been asked to incorporate Health Equality while addressing their topics in their Core Curriculum lectures at ATS 2014
  • The Committee assessed all 2014 Postgraduate (PG) Course proposals with the incorporation of Health Equality as an evaluation criteria; health equality will be part of the review criteria in the 2015 PG Course process  

Environmental Health Policy Committee

  • Environmental health plays a direct impact on health equality, with poor and disadvantaged communities being disproportionately exposures to both workplace and community environmental assaults.  The committee's work to support EPA in the mercury air toxics rules, cross state air pollution rule and industrial boiler standard rule will all have a positive impact on health equality.
  • The committee is also working to support EPA's carbon emission standard to address climate change.  Climate change will have a disproportionate impact on poorer communities, so this also supports the health equality theme.

International Conference Committee

  • ATS 2014 Health Equality initiatives include
    • Presidential Symposium
    • Symposia presentations
    • Abstract Session on Health Equality
    • All Abstract Reviewers have been instructed to review and keyword relevant abstracts for Health Equality
    • Track on Health Equality in Conference Itinerary Builder

Members in Transition and Training (MITT) Committee

Membership Committee

Patient and Family Education Committee (PFEC)

  • The new ATS Center for Patients and Families is designed to include patient education materials in a variety of formats and literacy levels.  Formats currently include: PDF, HTML [mobile friendly], and hard-copy. 
  • To address populations across the literacy/health literacy spectrum, we offer:
    • Patient Information Series
    • 100 word “summaries” of Patient Information Series content and other topics of interest
    • Podcasts based upon the 100 word summaries, (coming in 2014)
    • Video featuring ATS experts speaking about topics of interest to patients and families. 
  • The Series also addresses many health problems that are either more prevalent, or not well diagnosed/treated/controlled in specific populations, for example, asthma and lung cancer, as well as rare lung diseases like HPS.  Combined with distribution of these materials in a variety of formats, the likelihood of reaching a variety of populations with at least one format is increased.
  • Many ATS Patient Information Series materials are currently translated into Spanish.  We plan to translate the remainder of pieces into Spanish and ensure that the navigation of the site makes it easy for Spanish-speaking and English-speaking web visitors (both patient/families & providers) to select and use the correct patient piece for their needs.

Program Review Subcommittee (PRS)

  • Beginning in 2014, Assembly/Committee Project Proposals will include a section that asks applicants to describe if and how their topic is relevant to health equality, and to describe how the plan to incorporate the issue of health equality into their project.

Research Advocacy Committee (RAC)

  • RAC is working with PAR and the CCR to support patient-centered research that promotes health equality; RAC will be specifically promoting this research objective in the RAC's Annual Hill Day in Washington, by including specific state information about respiratory health disparities

Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC)

  • SAC will offer a grant-writing training session at the International Conference for graduates of the MECOR program to improve their likelihood of funding.
  • Research Grant Proposal Review: During the scientific review process, SAC will look for evidence that the proposal will advance health equality.

Training Committee

  • Development of an ATS Reading List topic for Health Equality articles
  • Training Committee will be paying special mind to those fellowship programs who submit an ‘Innovations in Fellowship Education Award’ abstract showcasing a curricula focused on health equality; application criteria have been updated as follows:

Special consideration will be given to those programs who demonstrate innovation in inclusion of programming and curricula focused on health equality  


  • Featured video on of ATS President Patricia Finn, MD discusses her goal of "integrating the issue of health equality into the ATS's DNA."
  • Created an area on, which lists all articles on health equalities published in AJRCCM and AnnalsATS
  • The May 2014 issue of AnnalsATS will be a theme issue on health equalities



Last Reviewed: February 2016