Study Looks at Efficacy of Different Terminology for Racial, Ethnic ‘Disparity’
"Measuring Trends in Racial/Ethnic Health Care Disparities," Medical Care Research and Review: Researchers Benjamin Le Cook and Thomas McGuire of Harvard Medical School and Samuel Zuvekas of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality analyzed previous studies to determine whether racial and ethnic health disparities have increased or diminished based on three different definitions for disparity. Researchers looked at definitions of disparity from Institute of Medicine, AHRQ and an alternative definition known as "residual direct effect." Based on all three approaches for measuring disparities, researchers found that disparities between Hispanics and whites for two broad indicators of health care increased between 1996 and 2005, while disparities between blacks and whites remained roughly constant. The researchers noted, "While all three definitions of disparities tell the same basic story, we find important differences between the definitions in terms of the magnitudes of disparities and changes over time." They added the IOM method is a better approach to measuring health disparities because it "adjusts for health status but allows for mediation of racial/ethnic disparities through [socioeconomic status] factors" (Le Cook et al., Medical Care Research and Review, 1/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.