Disrespect in health care is an injustice

The Journal of Health Services Research & Policy, Jan 2024 editorial says that injustice in health systems are hidden from public view, owing to the persistent marginalisation of certain groups of people, most especially, the socially disadvantaged groups who are most at risk of being disrespected.

Disrespect – expressed as the failure to see each and every person as equally valuable – is a core element of social injustice.

Exploring public perspectives about respect has revealed several important themes; including recognition of the unconditional value (dignity) of each person; treating patients as equals; listening to patients and not dismissing their concerns; knowing patients as individuals; being polite; and responding to suffering.

It is concerning, though not surprising, that those who have experienced disrespect, and who explain what it means to respect patients as persons; have been marginalised and thus have not had the opportunity to shape collective understanding.

That disrespect is not taken seriously represents a structural injustice, one which consistently and silently undermines efforts to mitigate inequities in health care.

While this article refers to health systems the content is equally relevant to maternity care. 

We agree with the need to consider a broader view of what it means to respect a person, and in so doing, to confront one of the most pressing moral problems of our time.

These sentiments certainly reflect the experiences of pregnant women, the Respectful Maternity Care Charter and our position statement on social justice.

You can read the editorial at: Editorial Disrespect in health care: An epistemic injustice

Thank you to Mary Catherine Beach for this insightful editorial.

#mattersmaternal #respectfulmaternitycare