Press Releases

Monday, March 06, 2023

Highmark's Health disparities expert to present on African American health inequalities

PITTSBURGH (March 6, 2023) — Dr. Oralia Dominic, health disparities expert and medical policy research analyst at Highmark Inc., along with Reverend Dr. Linwood Smith Jr., will deliver a peer-reviewed ‘poster presentation’ that dives into the role of clergies in promoting health and wellness among African Americans.

Dr. Dominic and Reverend Dr. Smith will present their findings at the Conference on Medicine and Religion on Monday, March 13, 2023, at 5:30 p.m., at The Blackwell Inn and Pfahl Conference Center in Columbus, OH.

The presentation highlights the widespread gaps among racial and ethnic minority groups, including African Americans in Philadelphia and showcases religious institution-focused studies that examine the role of clergy and their health promotion efforts among African Americans.

Reverend Dr. Smith, a dedicated leader in the Philadelphia area spearheaded the community-based participatory research study that engaged 22 African American clergies from 34 churches in the eastern Pennsylvania region. Each participant completed a one-time survey that assessed faith-based factors involving behavior and practices, church infrastructure, resources, program offerings, and type of disease impacting African Americans residing in the area.

“When Linwood and I dove into the surveys, we were stunned to find that most African American members who participated in the study had diabetes, cancer, or high blood pressure, and 71% had two or three of these illnesses,” Dr. Dominic explained. “It’s critical that we continue examining the research and providing resources to support individuals in our communities who are disproportionately impacted by health disparities.”

Dr. Dominic and Reverend Dr. Smith believe that their presentation at the upcoming conference may help define the most effective strategies used by clergy for addressing social determinants of health among African Americans in Philadelphia and set priorities in faith-based settings across the county.

The Conference on Medicine and Religion is an annual meeting that welcomes leaders throughout the world and features keynote speakers, peer-reviewed paper sessions, panels, workshops, and poster presentations. To learn more, please visit

About Highmark Inc.
One of America's leading health insurance organizations and an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Highmark Inc. (the Health Plan) and its affiliated health plans (collectively, the Health Plans) work passionately to deliver high-quality, accessible, understandable, and affordable experiences, outcomes, and solutions to customers. As the fourth-largest overall Blue Cross Blue Shield-affiliated organization, Highmark Inc. and its Blue-branded affiliates proudly cover the insurance needs of approximately 6.8 million members in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and West Virginia. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance and other related businesses. For more information, visit

For more information, contact

Alana Wenk
412-527-0020 (cell)