"Health disparities" refer to the negative differences in health status and outcomes among different population groups; e.g., race/ethnicity, economic status, education level, and sex. This guide was created in order to provide information about the histo


Health Disparities

Health Disparities

Broad Overview

 A health disparity is defined as a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion." - The Secretary's Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2020 Phase I Report Recommendations for the Framework and Format of Healthy People 2020

For a more in-depth definition of health disparities, please visit this Medline Plus topic guide.



Rabin, Rani Cary. Doctors Are More Likely to Describe Black Patients as Uncooperative, Studies Find. New York Times. Feb 16, 2022.

Brown, L. D., Vasquez, D., Lopez, D. I., & Portillo, E. M. (2022, February 1). Addressing Hispanic Obesity Disparities Using a Community Health Worker Model Grounded in Motivational Interviewing. American Journal of Health Promotion, 36(2), 259 - 268.

Diaz CL, & Watson KE (2022, January 7). Racial/ethnic health disparities in cardiovascular disease during the COVID-19 pandemic: revisiting a long-lasting problem. Cardiovascular Research, 118(1), e8 - 1. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvab318

Vanessa Heaslip, Sue Green, Bibha Simkhada, Huseyin Dogan, & Stephen Richer (2022, December 1). How Do People Who Are Homeless Find Out about Local Health and Social Care Services: A Mixed Method Study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(46), 46. 10.3390/ijerph19010046


Simpson T, Evans J, Goepfert A, & Elopre L (2022, December 1). Implementing a graduate medical education anti-racism workshop at an academic university in the Southern USA. Medical Education Online, 27(1), 1981803 - 1981802. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/10872981.2021.1981803


Aranda MP, Kremer IN, Hinton L, Zissimopoulos J, Whitmer RA, Hummel CH, ... Fabius C (2021, July 1). Impact of dementia: Health disparities, population trends, care interventions, and economic costs. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 69(7), 1774 - 1773. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/jgs.17345


Essien UR, Dusetzina SB, & Gellad WF (2021, November 9). A Policy Prescription for Reducing Health Disparities-Achieving Pharmacoequity. JAMA, 326(18), 1793 - 1792. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.2021.17764


Purtle J, Joshi R, Lê-Scherban F, Henson RM, & Diez Roux AV (2021, September 1). Linking Data on Constituent Health with Elected Officials' Opinions: Associations Between Urban Health Disparities and Mayoral Officials' Beliefs About Health Disparities in Their Cities. The Milbank Quarterly, 99(3), 794 - 793. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0009.12501


Presser, L.The Black American Amputation Epidemic. ProPublica. 2020, May 19. https://features.propublica.org/diabetes-amputations/black-american-amputation-epidemic/


Hailu, R. Fitbits and other wearables may not accurately track heart rates in people of color. StatNews. 2019, July 24. https://www.statnews.com/2019/07/24/fitbit-accuracy-dark-skin/


Braveman P. What are health disparities and health equity? We need to be clear. Public Health Rep. 2014;129 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):5‐8. doi:10.1177/00333549141291S203. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3863701/


Braveman PA, Kumanyika S, Fielding J, et al. Health disparities and health equity: the issue is justice. Am J Public Health. 2011;101 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S149‐S155. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2010.300062. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21551385/





Weaver, H. N. (Ed.) (2022). The Routledge International Handbook of Indigenous Resilience. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


Ansell, MD, D. A., & Lightfoot, L. E. (2021). The Death Gap: How Inequality Kills. University of Chicago Press.


Berger, Michele Tracy  (http://id.loc.gov/vocabulary/relators/aut) (2021). Black Women's Health: Paths to Wellness for Mothers and Daughters. New York, NY: New York University Press.

Dankwa-Mullan, I., Perez-Stable, E. J., Gardner, K. M.D., Zhang, X., Rosario, A. M., Wiley Online Library UBCM Life Science, ... Wiley Online Library UBCM All Obooks (2021). The Science of Health Disparities Research. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.


Darko, N. (2021). Engaging Black and Minority Ethnic Groups in Health Research: 'Hard to Reach'? Demystifying the Misconceptions. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.


Gunzler, D. D., Perzynski, A., & Carle, A. C. (2021). Structural Equation Modeling for Health and Medicine. Boca Raton, FL: Chapman & Hall/CRC.

Johnson, M. M., & Melton, M. L. (2021). Addressing Race-based Stress in Therapy With Black Clients: Using Multicultural and Dialectical Behavior Therapy Techniques. New York, NY: Routledge.


Kattari, S. K. (Ed.) (2021). Social Work and Health Care Practice With Transgender and Nonbinary Individuals and Communities: Voices for Equity, Inclusion, and Resilience. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.


Moorman, S. M. (2021). Dying in Old Age: U.S. Practice and Policy. New York, NY: Routledge.


Mukherjee, J. (2021). An Introduction to Global Health Delivery: Practice, Equity, Human Rights (Second ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.


Naylor, L. (2021). Social Equity and LGBTQ Rights: Dismantling Discrimination and Expanding Civil Rights. New York, NY: Routledge.


Oppenheim, B. W. (2021). Lean Healthcare Systems Engineering for Clinical Environments: A Step-By-Step Process for Managing Workflow and Care Improvement Projects. Milton: Productivity Press.


Ozdenerol, E. (Ed.) (2021). Gender Inequalities: GIS Approaches to Gender Analysis. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Smalley, K. B., Warren, J. C., Fernández, M. I. PhD, & Ebook Central - Academic Complete (2021). Health Equity: A Solutions-focused Approach. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company LLC.


Smeltzer, S. C. O., & Sigma Theta Tau International (issuing body) (2021). Delivering Quality Healthcare for People With Disability. Indianapolis, IN: Sigma Theta Tau International.


Ullmann, H., Weeks, J. D., Madans, J. H., & National Center for Health Statistics (U.S.) (issuing body) (2021). Disparities in Stressful Life Events Among Children Aged 5-17 Years: United States, 2019. Hyattsville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics.


Health Disparities Widget from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion - This widget allows the user to "share selected health disparities information from DATA2020 with visitors to your organization’s website."

National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports (searchable) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. "Data Query is an interactive tool that allows you to access national and State data from the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. You can search for data or trends based on particular subject areas, topics, or measures."


Data and Data Sets

Compendium of Federal Datasets Addressing Health Disparities from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health- Division of Policy and Data - "a free resource of publicly available data relevant to research and programs aiming to reduce health disparities by exploring the relationship between socioeconomic factors and the social determinants of health" (September 2019). The Compendium includes the following sources:

Veterans AdministrationOffice of Health Equity-  National Veteran Health Equity Report - FY 2013 (2013 is the last time that this report was produced)

NIH National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities includes reports, data sets, tools and articles on minority health and health disparities from federal and non-federal sources.

University of Michigan's Resource Center for Minority Data compiles data sets on minority communities dating back to the early 1990s.

HHS' Office of Minority Health presents the Healthy People 2020 Health Disparities Data Widget. Search by disparity (disability, education, income, location, race and ethnicity, and biological sex assigned at birth).


The Health Disparities Podcast- "This podcast highlights disparities evidenced in common chronic conditions featured in the “vicious cycle” (e.g. diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic pain, mental health) and musculoskeletal/arthritis conditions, with emphasis on disparities and how social determinants of health impact these conditions and their management." 

Disparities Research, Disparities Researchers, and Health Equity- an episode of the podcast, "Conversations with Dr. Baucher" (JAMA Network), "Engaging and topical conversations with authors of research, clinical reviews, and opinion pieces published in JAMA. Subscribe for the latest information, ideas, and innovations in clinical medicine and health policy."




California Newsreel with Vital Pictures. United States. National Minority Consortia of Public Television. Unnatural Causes... is inequality making us sick? A seven-part documentary series exploring racial and socioeconomic inequalities in health.


Khan Academy. United States. Health and Healthcare Disparities in the U.S. KhanAcademy.org. United States.( https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat/social-inequality/social-class/v/health-and-healthcare-disparities-in-the-us


NACCHO. United States. Achieving Health Equity - A Public Health Approach.


NACCHO. United States. Building Power for Health Equity.

National Academy of Medicine. Defining and Unpacking Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity. 2018.

NACCHO. United States. Slow Violence, Health Inequity and the Future Well Being of Communities.


National Academy of Sciences. United States. Community Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States.

Vital Pictures. American Denial. PBS/ITVS. United States. (http://www.americandenial.com/)

Working Towards Health Equity

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