Bridging Health Disparities Gaps through the Use of Medical Legal Partnerships: A Systematic Review
Over the past two decades, we have seen an increase in the use of medical-legal partnerships (MLPs) by health professionals, social workers and lawyers to address health disparities affecting vulnerable populations. MLPs are a multidisciplinary response to the many social challenges and structural barriers to care, including legal issues, that can contribute to negative health outcomes for patients. These challenges and issues need to be approached through a mix of integrated services, including legal counseling, in situations where nonmedical obstacles impair positive health outcomes. Using procedures in accordance with the PRISM Statement, we systematically reviewed observational studies published from 1993-2015 and describe the use and the extent of the impact and challenges identified with the implementation of MLPs in addressing health disparities. We screened 269 records and extracted articles using predefined criteria according to the PRISM Statement. With 20 articles included in the review, we found that MLPs can be an effective model to address health disparities affecting vulnerable groups. Given its role in promoting positive health outcomes, we present this model as a framework to tackle HIV-related health disparities. Findings from this review support the need for research evaluation and implementation and dissemination of effective MLPs models to address health disparities, in particular noncommunicable and communicable diseases affecting vulnerable populations.
Advocacy for health and health education
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related research
Discuss how MLPs have been used to address health disparities affecting vulnerable populations, including HIV-positive individuals.
Identify necessary and promising approaches to overcome research assessment issues and implementation challenges associated with MLPs.
Evaluate and discuss the public health impact of medical legal partnerships.
Keyword(s): Law, Underserved Populations
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted data analysis and manuscript development.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines,
and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed
in my presentation.