Why does health equity research matter?

“As racial and ethnic minorities come to make up a larger percentage of the total population, the overall health statistics in the United States will increasingly reflect the health status of those minorities.”—Thomas LaVeist, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Why is Health Equity Research Important?

The burden of health care disparities in the U.S. results in an estimated difference of 33 years between the longest and shortest living groups1, and “…the combined costs of health inequalities and premature death in the U.S. were $1.24 trillion” between 2003-20062.  Further, the racial/ethnic minority population groups that presently experience the most disadvantaged health are estimated to grow to the majority of the U.S. population thereby resulting in an even greater cost-related burden associated with health disparities, inequities, and inequalities. Further, the problem of racial/ethnic health disparities may likely be underestimated in that it is often difficult to collect good data and the controversy surrounding the issue of collecting data with racial/ethnic identifiers has made it extremely difficult to collect these data in certain settings and has led to calls for the elimination of such data. 

 1Murray CJ, Kulkarni SC, Michaud C, et al. Eight Americas: investigating mortality disparities across races, counties, and race-counties in the United States. PLoS Med 2006;3:e260
 2Andrulis DP, Siddiqui NJ, Purtle J, Duchon L. Patient protection and affordable care act of 2010: advancing health equity for racially and ethnically diverse populations. Washington, DC: Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies; 2010.