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DSC Team

Joseph R. Betancourt, MD, MPH
Director, The Disparities Solutions Center
Senior Scientist, Mongan Institute for Health Policy
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Director of Multicultural Education, Massachusetts General Hospital

Dr. Betancourt is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and directs the Disparities Solutions Center, which works with healthcare organizations to improve quality of care, address racial and ethnic disparities, and achieve equity. He is also Director of Multicultural Education for Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and an expert in cross-cultural care and communication. He practices Internal Medicine at the MGH Internal Medicine Associates.

Dr. Betancourt has served on several Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committees, including those that produced “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Health Care”, “Guidance for a National Health Care Disparities Report”, and “In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health Care Workforce.” and served on the IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy. He was a member of the Massachusetts State Committee on Racial/Ethnic Disparities and served on the Boston Public Health Commission Committee on Racial/Ethnic Disparities. Dr. Betancourt co-chairs the MGH Committee on Racial and Ethnic Disparities and the Harvard Medical School Cross-Cultural Care Committee, and sat on the Boston Public Health Commission's Health Health Equity Committee, and the Massachusetts Disparities Council. Dr. Betancourt  serves on the Boston Board of Health, and is on the Boards of CHE Trinity, the nation's second largest non-for-profit healthcare system, as well as Neighborhood Health Plan, based in Boston.

Dr. Betancourt is also the co-founder and President of Quality Interactions, the leading provider of eLearning and blended learning solutions that empower healthcare organizations to enhance patient and customer experience, improve health outcomes, and strengthen financial performance by developing the cultural competence of their workforce. Over 125,000 health care professionals and staff have completed Quality Interactions programs.  

Dr. Betancourt has served as Principal Investigator on grants from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Commonwealth Fund, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Amgen Foundation, the Aetna Foundation, and the California Endowment, in addition to being co-investigator on a project funded by the National Cancer Institute and the Health Resources and Services Administration. He has authored peer-reviewed articles on topics including racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care; public health; hypertension, diabetes, and cerebrovascular disease in minority communities; cross-cultural care and education; clinical decision making; ethics; workforce diversity; and the impact of language barriers on health care. Dr. Betancourt also teaches cross-cultural medicine, health disparities, and health policy to medical students and residents at MGH-Harvard Medical School and to students at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr. Betancourt has advised federal, state and local government, foundations, health plans, hospitals, health centers, professional societies, trade organizations, pharma, and private industry on strategies to improve quality of care and eliminate disparities. He received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland, his medical degree from the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, and completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. Following residency, he completed The Commonwealth Fund-Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy, and received his Masters in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health.

Selected Publications

1. Dogra N, Betancourt JR, Park ER, Sprague-Martinez L. The relationship between drivers and policy in the implementation of cultural competency training in health care. J Natl Med Assoc. 2009 Feb;101(2):127-33.

2. Green AR, Betancourt JR, Park ER, Greer JA, Donahue EJ, Weissman JS. Providing culturally competent care: residents in HRSA Title VII funded residency programs feel better prepared. Acad Med. 2008 Nov;83(11):1071-9.

3. Wolf M, Betancourt J, Chang Y, Shah A, Teng M, Tamez H, Gutierrez O, Camargo CA Jr, Melamed M, Norris K, Stampfer MJ, Powe NR, Thadhani R. Impact of Activated Vitamin D and Race on Survival among Hemodialysis Patients. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008; 19(7):1379-88.

4. Lopez L, Vranceanu AM, Cohen AP, Betancourt J, Weissman JS. Personal characteristics associated with resident physicians' self perceptions of preparedness to deliver cross-cultural care. J Gen Intern Med. 2008 Dec;23(12):1953-8. Epub 2008 Sep 20.

5. Kang-Kim M, Betancourt JR, Ayanian JZ, Zaslavsky AM, Yucel RM, Weissman JS. Access to care and use of preventive services by Hispanics: state-based variations from 1991 to 2004. Med Care. 2008 May;46(5):507-15.

6. Bloch MJ, Betancourt J, Green A. Overcoming racial and ethnic disparities in blood pressure control: a patient-centered approach to cross-cultural communication. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2008 Aug;10(8):589-91.

7. King RK, Green AR, Tan-McGrory A, Donahue EJ, Kimbrough-Sugick J, Betancourt JR. A plan for action: key perspectives from the racial/ethnic disparities strategy forum. Milbank Q. 2008 Jun;86(2):241-72. Review.

8. Green AR, Peters-Lewis A, Percac-Lima S, Betancourt JR, Richter JM, Janairo MP, Gamba GB, Atlas SJ. Barriers to screening colonoscopy for low-income Latino and white patients in an urban community health center. J Gen Intern Med. 2008 Jun;23(6):834-40. Epub 2008 Mar 19.

9. Boone LR, Mayberry RM, Betancourt JR, Coggins PC, Yancey EM. Cultural competence in the prevention of sexually transmitted disease. Am J Health Studies. 2007;21(4):199-208.

10. Smith WR, Betancourt JR, Wynia MK, Bussey-Jones J, Stone VE, Phillips CO, Fernandez A, Jacobs E, Bowles J. Recommendations for teaching about racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care. Ann Intern Med. 2007 Nov 6;147(9):654-65.

11. Green AR, Miller E, Krupat E, White A, Taylor WC, Hirsh DA, Wilson RP, Betancourt JR. Designing and implementing a cultural competence OSCE: lessons learned from interviews with medical students. Ethn Dis. 2007 Spring;17(2):344-50.

12. Betancourt JR, Quinlan J. Personal responsibility versus responsible options: health care, community health promotion, and the battle against chronic disease. Prev Chronic Dis. 2007 Jul;4(3):A41. Epub 2007 Jun 15.

13. Betancourt JR, Reid AE. Black physicians' experience with race: should we be surprised? Ann Intern Med. 2007 Jan 2;146(1):68-9.

14. Greer JA, Park ER, Green AR, Betancourt JR, Weissman JS. Primary care resident perceived preparedness to deliver cross-cultural care: an examination of training and specialty differences. J Gen Intern Med. 2007 Aug;22(8):1107-13. Epub 2007 May 22.

15. Lee KC, Winickoff JP, Kim MK, Campbell EG, Betancourt JR, Park ER, Maina AW, Weissman JS. Resident physicians' use of professional and nonprofessional interpreters: a national survey. JAMA. 2006 Sep 6;296(9):1050-3. No abstract available.

16. Betancourt JR. Cultural competency: providing quality care to diverse populations. Consult Pharm. 2006 Dec;21(12):988-95.

17. Geiger HJ, Betancourt JR, Williams DR. Who is at greatest risk for receiving poor-quality health care? N Engl J Med. 2006 Jun 15;354(24):2617-9; author reply 2617-9.

18. Park ER, Betancourt JR, Miller E, Nathan M, MacDonald E, Ananeh-Firempong O 2nd, Stone VE. Internal medicine residents' perceptions of cross-cultural training. Barriers, needs, and educational recommendations. J Gen Intern Med. 2006 May;21(5):476-80.

19. Betancourt JR. Eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health care: what is the role of academic medicine? Acad Med. 2006 Sep;81(9):788-92.

20. Betancourt JR, Maina AW, Soni SM. The IOM report unequal treatment: lessons for clinical practice. Del Med J. 2005 Sep;77(9):339-48.

21. Betancourt JR, Green AR, Carrillo JE, Park ER. Cultural competence and health care disparities: key perspectives and trends. Health Aff (Millwood) 2005; 24:499-505.

22. Betancourt JR. Racial and ethnic disparities in health care: no one suspect, no one solution. Del Med J. 2005 Sep;77(9):333-4.

23. Weissman JS, Betancourt JR, Campbell EG, Park ER, Kim MK, Clarridge B, Blumenthal D, Lee KC, Maina AW. Resident physician's preparedness to provide cross-cultural care. JAMA 2005; 294:1058-67.

24. Park ER, Betancourt JR, Kim MK, Maina AW, Blumenthal D, Weissman JS. Mixed messages: residents' experiences learning cross-cultural care. Acad Med. 2005 Sep;80(9):874-80.

25. Betancourt JR. Cultural competence--marginal or mainstream movement? N Engl J Med. 2004; 351:953-5.

26. Betancourt JR, Carrillo JE, Green AR, Maina A. Barriers to health promotion and disease prevention in the Latino population. Clin Cornerstone. 2004;6(3):16-26; discussion 27-9. Review.

27. Betancourt JR, Maina AW. The Institute of Medicine report "Unequal Treatment": implications for academic health centers. Mt Sinai J Med. 2004 Oct;71(5):314-21.

28. Betancourt JR, Ananeh-Firempong O. Not Me! Doctors, decisions, and disparities in health care. Cardiovascular Reviews and Reports 2004;25:105-9.

29. Betancourt JR, King RK. The IOM Report “Unequal Treatment”: The Institute of Medicine Report and its public health implications. Public Health Rep 2003; 118:287-292.

30. Betancourt JR, Green AR, Carrillo JE, Ananeh-Firempong O. Defining cultural competence: A practical framework for addressing racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. Public Health Rep 2003; 118:293-302.

31. Betancourt JR. Cross-cultural medical education: Conceptual approaches and frameworks for evaluation. Acad Med 2003; 78:560-69.

32. Cone DC, Richardson LD, Todd KH, Betancourt JR, Lowe RA. Health care disparities in emergency medicine. Acad Emerg Med. 2003 Nov;10(11):1176-83. Review.

33. Green AR, Carrillo JE, Betancourt JR. Why the disease-based model of medicine fails our patients. West J Med. 2002 Mar;176(2):141-3.

34. Elixhauser A, Weinick R, Betancourt JR, Andrews R. Differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites in use of hospital procedures for cerebrovascular disease. Ethn Dis 2002; 12:29-37.

35. Green AR, Betancourt JR, Carrillo JE. Integrating social factors into cross-cultural medical education. Acad Med. 2002 Mar;77(3):193-7.

36. Betancourt JR. IOM highlights health disparities: implications for health plans. Healthplan. 2002 Jul-Aug;43(4):30-3, 36.

37. Betancourt JR, Green AR, Carrillo JE. The challenges of cross-cultural health care: perspectives on diversity, ethics, and the medical encounter. Bioethics Forum 2000;16:27-32.

38. Betancourt JR, King RK. Diversity in health care: expanding our perspectives. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2000 Sep;154(9):871-2.

39. Green AR, Betancourt JR, Carrillo JE. The relation between somatic symptoms and depression. N Engl J Med. 2000 Mar 2;342(9):658; author reply 659.

40. Betancourt JR, Jacobs EA. Language barriers to informed consent and confidentiality: the impact on women's health. J Am Med Womens Assoc. 2000 Fall;55(5):294-5.

41. Carrillo JE, Green AR, Betancourt JR. Cross-cultural primary care: a patient-based approach. Ann Intern Med. 1999:130:829-834.

42. Betancourt JR, Carrillo JE, Green AR. Hypertension in multicultural and minority populations: linking communication to compliance. Curr Hypertens Rep. 1999. 1:482-488.

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