Research In Brief – Terms Relating to Minority Health

In 2016 we began the Research In Focus series, highlighting new and interesting findings from NIDILRR-funded studies, presented in a reader-friendly format. As a follow up, we offer our new occasional series Research In Brief, where we break down some of the terms you might find in peer-reviewed studies. We hope you enjoy the new series and find it helpful as you explore disability and rehabilitation research!

April is Minority Health Month. In this post, we will define some terms that you may see in research articles about healthcare for minorities, including people with disabilities.

  • Health disparities are differences in health outcomes between groups of people, such as higher rates of occurrence, cost, or death due to otherwise preventable conditions. For example, studies have shown that some ethnic minority groups in the United States have higher rates of preventable conditions like heart disease and diabetes compared with white Americans. Americans with disabilities also tend to have higher rates of many health problems compared with Americans without disabilities, according to recent research. The term “health disparities” may also refer to differences in access to resources, such as health insurance coverage, which may explain health differences between groups.
  • Socioeconomic status describes the resources a person, household, or family has in relation to others. It is sometimes also called “social class.” In research studies, researchers often measure socioeconomic status by asking people about their income and the type of job they have, or the type of job held by the head of their household. Because education and income are closely connected, people with more advanced education are also considered to have higher socioeconomic status. Socioeconomic status is an example of something which might cause health disparities in a community.
  • Preventive healthcare, or simply “preventive care,” is medical care designed to prevent health problems. For example, annual physicals, flu shots, blood pressure and cholesterol tests, mammograms, and prostate exams are all examples of preventive care. Studies have shown that people with disabilities may have difficulty accessing preventive care, which can lead to health disparities.

These topics were covered in a recent issue of our Research In Focus series. If you are interested in more research literature on these topics, please visit the RIF series for reader-friendly summaries or search the REHABDATA database with these terms. Information Specialists are available to assist your search.

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