Minority Health and Health Disparities Definitions
NIMHD's foundation addresses the reality that, in the United States, many racial and ethnic minority populations experience poorer health and greater disparities in health outcomes.
Minority health research focuses on understanding and improving the health of people from specific racial or ethnic minority groups. The central core of health disparities research involves identifying how race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status interact with health determinants, such as social determinants, individual behaviors, the physical and cultural environment, and biological systems, to lead to differential clinical and population health outcomes.
Frequently, the terms minority health and health disparities are used interchangeably. However, the two terms cover distinct areas of research with substantial overlap in areas where identification of or impact on a disparity is recognized. To advance the science of minority health and of health disparities research, toward an America where all populations have an equal opportunity to live long, healthy, productive lives, the following clarifying definitions and criteria have been developed:
Minority Health Definition
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.
Health Disparity Definition
A health disparity 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.
Page updated Oct. 3, 2023