The Sandra L. Fenwick Institute for Pediatric Health Equity and Inclusion is a Boston Children’s Hospital initiative that advances pediatric health equity locally, nationally, and around the world. The institute is named in honor of Ms. Fenwick, Boston Children’s’ former CEO, who retired in early 2021 after more than 20 years in leadership roles at the hospital.
As a leader in pediatric health care, Boston Children’s is committed to ensuring that all children receive the care they need and deserve. The Fenwick Institute carries out this work in three primary areas: health equity research, inclusion, and public policy.
The Fenwick Institute is led by Valerie Ward MD, MPH, Boston Children’s Senior Vice President, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, Pediatric Radiologist and the first Sandra Labas Fenwick Chair in Equity and Inclusion.
With the creation of the Fenwick Institute we have the opportunity to extend our vital work around pediatric health equity, diversity, and inclusion to the national stage.
Health equity research
Health disparities stem from a complex interplay between social, economic, and institutional factors that create barriers to care. Yet, little research into such barriers exists. The Fenwick Institute shapes emerging research into pediatric health disparities with the aim of ensuring equitable health care access, delivery, and outcomes for all children.
Health equity research initiatives
- Missed care opportunities – a multi-center, two-year study focused on factors that contribute to missed medical appointments and the development of culturally effective interventions.
- Patient navigation health equity project – builds on a successful collaborative effort between the Office of Health Equity and Orthopedic Center to recruit diverse families to participate in a study of brachial plexus birth injury. The current study aims to improve families’ understanding of brachial plexus injury and their adherence to treatment, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.
- Seed grants – will provide funding for health equity research projects with translational, actionable interventions.
An important component of health equity is ensuring patients and families can receive care from caregivers of diverse backgrounds. The Fenwick Institute builds on Boston Children’s position as a leader among children’s hospitals to inspire greater diversity and inclusion among health care leaders and providers.
- Fenwick Fellows – a leadership development and career advancement program for mid-career professionals. Includes seminars focused on career advancement, career coaches/mentors, and group meetings featuring select speakers and readings on professional development.
True health equity requires changing the policies that reinforce health disparities within communities and institutions. The Fenwick Institute will extend Boston Children’s leadership in health equity, diversity, and inclusion by translating research findings into actionable public policy recommendations. To this end, we are:
- initiating and collaborating on new policy and related research opportunities
- working to develop a national community focused on pediatric health equity policy and research
Public policy initiatives
Annual Pediatric Health Equity Research and Policy Symposium
The Fenwick Institute hosted its first Pediatric Health Equity Research and Policy Symposium in November 2022. The second annual symposium will be Sept. 29, 2023, and will feature keynote speaker Dr. Robert Roswell, Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Professor of Cardiology and Science Education at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. We will also have a fireside chat about the current state of pediatric mental health with Dr. Kevin Churchwell, the President and CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Kevin Simon, child psychiatrist at Boston Children’s Hospital and Chief Behavioral Health Officer for the city of Boston. Researchers from across the country will be presenting original child health equity research. We will also be offering two interactive workshops: 1) Using the Childhood Opportunity Index for health equity research; and 2) Translating your research for child health equity advocacy.
Current research: Reporting and Representation of Participant Race and Ethnicity in NIH-Funded Pediatric Clinical Trials
Recruiting diverse participants who represent the general population in clinical trials is a key component of generalizable research findings.
To better understand how well diverse children are represented in pediatric clinical trials, we are conducting a study of National Institutes of Health-funded U.S. pediatric clinical trials. Specifically, we are examining how many studies report race and ethnicity as well as comparing participants’ reported race and ethnicity to the U.S. population. Our hypothesis is there will be variability in how researchers categorize and report race and ethnicity and that children from marginalized racial and ethnic groups in these trials will be underrepresented.