Understanding Health Disparities

Health disparities are preventable differences in treatment and access based on being a member of a disadvantaged population. Such populations can include people of a certain ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status, citizenship status and much more, as well as a combination of multiple factors. Examples of health disparities can be reflected in important aspects of treatment like the affordability and quality of care. In the long-term, health disparities lead to higher mortality rates and lower quality of life for the populations affected.

As future healthcare professionals it is important to be aware of healthcare disparities in order to contribute to a more equitable environment. Health equity is achieved when everyone has an equal chance of attaining health.

For more information on what a health disparity is, check out these resources:

For information on specific health disparities and how to address them, check out these resources:



"Why your doctor should care about social justice" | Mary Bassett



  • Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington depicts the history of black Americans unwillingly/unwittingly participating in medicine.
  • Black and Blue by John Hoberman depicts the systemic racism in the medical field and how racial profiling affects treatment for black patients.
  • Just Medicine by Dayna Bowen Matthew depicts the inequalities in American healthcare but also offers solutions to these issues.