Rachel Hardeman, PhD, MPH
Associate Professor and
Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity,
Division of Health Policy and Management
Associate Professor and
Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity, Division of Health Policy and Management
PhD, Health Policy & Management, University of Minnesota, 2013
MPH, Health Policy & Management, University of Minnesota, 2007
BS, Chemistry and Spanish, Xavier University of Louisiana, 2002
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Dr. Rachel R. Hardeman is a reproductive health equity researcher whose program of research applies the tools of population health science and health services research to elucidate a critical and complex determinant of health inequity—racism. Dr. Hardeman leverages the frameworks of critical race theory and reproductive justice to inform her equity-centered work which aims to build the empirical evidence of racism’s impact on health particularly for Black birthing people and their babies. In 2020, she was named the first Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity.
Dr. Hardeman’s research includes a partnership with Roots Community Birth Center, in North Minneapolis, one of five Black-owned freestanding birth centers in the United States. Her work also examines the potential mental health impacts for Black birthing people when living in a community that has experienced the killing of an unarmed Black person by police. Dr. Hardeman is principal investigator of MORhELab, which explores and defines ways to measure structural racism for the purposes of empirical, quantitative investigation.
Published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, Dr. Hardeman’s research has elicited important conversations on the topics of culturally-centered care, police brutality and structural racism as a fundamental cause of health inequities. Her overarching goal is to contribute to a body of knowledge that links structural racism to health in a tangible way, identifies opportunities for intervention, and dismantles the systems, structures, and institutions that allow inequities to persist.
Dr. Hardeman is active locally and nationally with organizations that seek to achieve health equity. She was recently appointed to the Minnesota Maternal Mortality Review Committee and the CDC Maternal Mortality Review Information Application (MMRIA) Bias work group where she is working to develop a measure of structural racism to be included when reviewing maternal deaths. Dr. Hardeman also serves on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood of the North Central States.
Maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, health equity, structural racism, population health, medical education
Awards & Recognition
Research Funding Grants
- 2019-2021, Society of Family Planning, “Confronting Racism in Reproductive Health”
- 2019-2020, Children’s Hospital of MN, “Structural Racism and Income Equality: Associations with Adverse Birth”
- 2016–2019, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, "Interdisciplinary Research Leaders: Improving Equity in Birth Outcomes: A Community-Based, Culturally-Centered Approach," Principal Investigator
- 2016–2019, NIH NHLBI Investigator Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health Related Research, "The Impact of Residency Factors on Racial, Size, and LGBT Bias in Physician Trainees," Principal Investigator (Mentor: Michelle van Ryn, PhD, MPH)
- 2016, University of Minnesota, Office of the Vice President for Research, "Come Step In It: Real Talk About Race," Co-Principal Investigator
- 2017-2019, NIH, National Health Lung Blood Institute, “Predictors of Change in Prosocial Attitudes During Medical Education” Co-Investigator
- Dyer L. Hardeman R, Wallace M, Theall K. Mass Incarceration and Public Health: The Association between Black Jail Incarceration and Adverse Birth Outcomes among Black Women in Louisiana. Resubmitted and Under Review: BMC Pregnancy
- Henning-Smith C, Hernandez A, Hardeman R, Ramirez M, Kozhimannil KB. Rural Lives Lost: Rural Counties with Majority Black or Indigenous Populations Suffer Highest Rates of Premature Death. Health Affairs 38.12 (2019): 2019-2026.
- Hardeman R, Karbeah J, Kozhimannil K. Applying a Critical Race Lens to Relationship Centered Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth: An Antidote to Structural Racism. Birth (2019).
- Hardeman R, Karbeah J, Almanza J, Kozhimannil KB. Roots Community Birth Center: A Culturally-centered Care Model for Improving Value and Equity in Childbirth. Healthcare (p. 100367). Elsevier.
- Attanasio L, Hardeman R. Declined Care and Discrimination during the Childbirth Hospitalization. Social Science & Medicine. 2019: 232(270-77)
- Hardeman RR, Przedworski JM, Burke S, Burgess DJ, Perry S, Phelan S, Dovidio JF, van Ryn M. "Association Between Perceived Medical School Diversity Climate and Change in Depressive Symptoms Among Medical Students: A Report from the Medical Student CHANGE Study," Journal of the National Medical Association, Winter 2016
- Hardeman RR, Medina EM, Kozhimannil KB. "Structural Racism and Supporting Black Lives - The Role of Health Professionals," The New England Journal of Medicine, Dec 2016
- Hardeman RR, Kozhimannil KB. "Motivations for Entering the Doula Profession: Perspectives From Women of Color," Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health, Nov 2016
- Hardeman RR, Perry SP, Phelan SM, Przedworski JM, Burgess DJ, van Ryn M. "Racial Identity and Mental Well-Being: The Experience of African American Medical Students, A Report from the Medical Student CHANGE Study," Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, June 2016
- Kozhimannil KB, Vogelsang CA, Hardeman RR, Prasad S. "Disrupting the Pathways of Social Determinants of Health: Doula Support during Pregnancy and Childbirth," Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, May 2016
It is my goal to create a classroom environment that is a site of knowledge production and critical awareness where students are empowered to ask questions, embrace conflict and critically analyze complex issues. Through interactive learning and collaboration, I scaffold this process, providing students
with the tools, space and support to ask critical questions about how our society is structured, to question closely held beliefs and to consider alternate explanations for health inequity in our society.
I teach a course I created in 2016 called PuBH 6737 Structural Racism and Health Inequities.The basic goals of my course are to: (1) Gain an understanding of the social construct of race; (2) Define, describe and operationalize structural racism; (3) Gain a theoretical and applied understanding of the link between racism and health; (4) Explore the public health professional role in dismantling structural racism.
- PubH 6700, Foundations of Public Health
- PubH 6835, Principals of Health Policy
- PubH 7200, Axes of Inequity: Exploring the Root Causes of Health Disparities Through Social Policy
Black mothers and infants are more than twice as likely as white mothers and infants to die around the time of childbirth. I strongly believe that bridging the gap between the academy and marginalized communities through authentic engagement is vital to efforts to achieve equity. To that end, I have endeavored to shape the knowledge and dialogue around health equity and to build relationships within the academy and with community members, clinicians, program administrators, and private sector entities that enable my participation in successful efforts to work towards reproductive justice.
I draw on my research findings at the intersections of population health datasets and the stories and lives I document in my qualitative work to serve the field of public health at a national and local level as well as within my university community. I have been of service to the field by bringing the voices and
experiences of marginalized communities into the rooms where historically they have been absent.
The funding that I have received has also allowed me to pursue my research goals in collaborative teams with community partners. As a recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) grant, I conceived our team’s research project documenting the model of care at
Minnesota’s first and only Black owned and operated freestanding birth center (Roots Community Birth Center). This project and our findings have had significant impact on the field of reproductive health equity. Our findings have led to critical discussions in clinical and policy circles about culturally-centered
maternity and postpartum care. Additionally, the community relationships I have built over the past few years have helped to inform current and future research questions. For example, discussions with families receiving care at Roots highlighted the stress pregnant women were feeling after a high-profile incident of
racialized police violence occurred in the community.
- Chair, AcademyHealth Disparities Interest Group
- Square Roots Advisory Board Member
- Hennepin County Medical Center, Mission Effectiveness Board, Member
- AcademyHealth Disparities Interest Group, Chair
- Community Voices and Solutions (CVAS) Advisory Group, Office of Minority Health State Partnership Grant to Improve Minority Health, Member
- Partners in Equity and Inclusion, consultant
In The News
- Health Insurance Coverage Increases for People on Probation After ACA Implementation (Read More)
- Developing an Anti-Racism Medical School Curriculum (Read More)
- Measuring Structural Racism (Read More)
- Institutional Racism Mentioned in Few Public Health Journal Articles (Read More)
- The Role of Race in Health (Read More)
- Researchers Call for Exploring Racist Roots in Healthcare Inequities (Read More)
- Hardeman Honored for Research in Structural Racism (Read More)
- Ending Policy Brutality Through Research (Read More)
- Exploring Why Women of Color Become Doulas (Read More)
- Negative Diversity Climate Raises Depression Risk in Medical School Students (Read More)
- How Clinicians and Researchers Can Help Dismantle Structural Racism (Read More)
- Hardeman Leads New Project Addressing Racial Inequalities in Birth Outcomes (Read More)
In the Media
- Trump's Title X changes would alter grant funding (Minnesota Daily)
- No deal: Providers sound off on Trump’s domestic gag rule (Ms. Magazine)
- How Minnesota universities are accelerating change in health care education (Twin Cities Business)
- The Health Care System is Tough, Especially for Black Women (Minnesota Public Radio)
- Premature Birth Rates Rise Again, But a Few States are Turning Things Around (NPR)
- Premature birth rates rise again, but a few states are turning things around (NPR)
- Research Brief: Measuring structural racism to eliminate health inequities (UMN News)
- Bringing race awareness to medical students (UMN Research Brief)
- New York to expand use of doulas to reduce childbirth deaths (The New York Times)
- How culturally centered care could help mothers and babies (MPR)
- Preterm births in the U.S. rise again, signaling worrisome trend (STAT)
- How your physician’s prejudices may be hurting your health (Huffington Post)
- Doulas Comfort Mothers During Pregnancy and Childbirth (Minnesota Spokesman Recorder)
- Kansas Premature Birth Rates Reflects Racial Disparities, But State Nears Goal for 2020 (Kansas Health Institute)
- How Medicaid Coverage for Doula Care Could improve Birth Outcomes, Reduce Costs, and Improve Equity (Health Affairs)
- Does Structural Racism Exist in Our Health Care System? (KSTP)