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What are Health Disparities?

Health disparities (or health inequalities) are gaps in health outcomes or determinants between segments of the population. Many health disparities are related to social determinants of health, the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. Identification and awareness of differences among populations regarding health determinants and health outcomes are essential steps toward reducing health disparities.

CDC and its partners can use data on health disparities to help direct actions to address the many health disparities that exist in the United States. The future health of the nation will be determined, to a large extent, by how effectively federal, state, and local agencies and private organizations work with communities to eliminate health disparities among those populations experiencing a disproportionate burden of disease, disability, and death.

What are Disparities Analytics?

The Division of Epidemiology, Analysis, and Library Services (DEALS) in the Center for Epidemiology, Surveillances, and Laboratory Services (CSELS) uses the term disparities analytics to describe the science of examining data with the purpose of identifying differences in health outcomes and determinants among segments of the population. The focus of DEALS’ disparity work is on the measurement of health disparities and the development of analysis and visualization methods to best monitor and report health disparities.

Health Disparities & Inequalities Report

Image of a couple holding hands with a child

The CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report — United States, 2013 is the second CDC report to address a multitude of differences in mortality and disease risk related to behaviors, access to health care, and social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, live and work.

Scientists from across the agency performed analyses to examine health determinants and health outcomes, access to health care, health behaviors, and exposure to environmental health hazards relative to

  • race and ethnicity
  • sex
  • age
  • household income
  • educational attainment
  • geographic location
  • some additional factors examined where data is available

The topics table lists the issues studied in the report and provides links to current data and information about the ongoing work on health disparities across the agency.