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Health Disparities

The purpose of this guide is to assist students and faculty in conducting research on the topic of health disparities and health equity issues.

Social Determinants of Health (SDOH)

list of social determinants of health from the CDCSocial determinants of health (SDOH) are the circumstances of an individual's disposition. These conditions begin at birth and continue to persist as we grow and age. External influences impact these determinants outside of an individual's control (in positive or negative ways). Some examples of external influences include money, power, and the presence of local resources or support systems. Depending on these conditions, some may be at more of an advantage than others. This can lead to health inequities and avoidable differences in health.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Infographic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Source: CDC

Examples of Social Determinants of Health

These examples can influencehands working together health in positive and negative ways:

  • Income and social protection
  • Education level
  • Unemployment status and job insecurity
  • Working life conditions
  • Food insecurity
  • Housing, basic amenities, and the environment
  • Early childhood development
  • Social inclusion and non-discrimination
  • Structural conflict
  • Access to affordable health services of decent quality

World Health Organization

Image source: Pixabay

Health Disparities is an Encompassing Term

medical team, healthcare, operationHealth disparities are, in essence, disproportionate instances of health issues to a group of people on the basis of social, economic, or physical disadvantage. How this manifests can depend on situational factors including (but not limited to):

  • Prevalence of disease
  • Severity of illness
  • Number of complications due to disease
  • Mortality
  • Availability of healthcare
  • Availability for screening health status


Image Source: Pixabay

Vulnerable Populations

four people standing together, all wearing face masksPopulations that may be at higher risk of health disparities could show difference in health quality on the basis of:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Immigrant status
  • Disability
  • Sex or gender identity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Geographical location
  • Income
  • Level of education


Image Source: Pexels