HDPulse - Health Disparities and Minority Health Resources

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Minority Health and Health Disparities Definitions

Distinctive health characteristics and attributes of racial and/or ethnic minority populations who are socially disadvantaged due in part to being subject to racist or discriminatory acts and are underserved in health care.

Minority health research is the scientific investigation of singular and combinations of attributes, characteristics, behaviors, biology, and societal and environmental factors that influence the health of minority racial and/or ethnic population(s), including within-group or ethnic sub-populations, with the goals of improving health and preventing disease.

The OMB Directive 15 defines racial and ethnic minority populations as follows:

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

A health disparity (HD) is a health difference that adversely affects disadvantaged populations in comparison to a reference population, based on one or more health outcomes. All populations with health disparities are socially disadvantaged due in part to being subject to racist or discriminatory acts and are underserved in health care.

The health outcomes are categorized as:

  • Higher incidence and/or prevalence of disease, including earlier onset or more aggressive progression of disease
  • Premature or excessive mortality from specific health conditions
  • Greater global burden of disease, such as Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALY), as measured by population health metrics
  • Poorer health behaviors and clinical outcomes related to the aforementioned; and
  • Worse outcomes on validated self-reported measures that reflect daily functioning or symptoms from specific conditions

Health Disparities Research is a multi-disciplinary field of study devoted to gaining greater scientific knowledge about the influence of health determinants; understanding the role of mechanisms; and determining how this knowledge is translated into interventions to reduce or eliminate adverse health outcomes.

Populations with health disparities include racial and ethnic minority populations, people with lower socioeconomic status (SES), underserved rural communities, sexual and gender minority (SGM) groups, and people with disabilities.