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Minority Health and Health Disparities Definitions

Distinctive health characteristics and attributes of a racial and/or ethnic group who is socially disadvantaged and/or subject to potential discriminatory acts.

Minority health research is the scientific investigation of distinctive health characteristics and attributes of minority racial and/or ethnic groups who are underrepresented in biomedical research.

The OMB Directive 15 defines racial and ethnic category as follows:

  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Asian
  • Black or African American
  • Hispanic/Latino American
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

A Health Disparity is defined as a health difference that adversely affects disadvantaged populations.

  • Higher incidence/prevalence
  • Earlier onset/faster progression
  • Poorer daily functioning or quality of life
  • Premature or excessive mortality
  • Greater global burden

Health Disparities Research is a multi-disciplinary field of study devoted to gaining greater scientific knowledge about the influence of health determinants, and translating this knowledge into interventions to reduce or eliminate adverse health differences.

Health disparity populations include racial/ethnic minorities, low socio-economic status, rural, sexual and gender minorities, and/or others subject to discrimination who have poorer health outcomes often attributed to being socially disadvantaged, which results in being underserved in the full spectrum of health care.