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Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion

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Health disparity is defined as clinically and statistically significant differences in health care or health status between distinct vulnerable and less vulnerable populations linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage and an elevated burden of ill health or premature mortality.

Such disparities adversely affect groups who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health or health care based on numerous characteristics linked to discrimination or exclusion.

The categories and/or domains of disparities research can include:

Examples of Vulnerable Populations

  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Stigmatizing medical diagnoses (e.g., HIV, mental health, PTSD)

Generations of Disparities Research

  • First Generation — Detecting variation
  • Second Generation — Identifying reasons for disparities
  • Third Generation — Intervening on disparities

Factors Associated with Disparities Research

  • Patient level
  • Provider level
  • System level

Disparities Research Methods

  • Qualitative Research
  • Mixed Methods Research
  • Implementation Research
  • Analysis of existing databases