OHE Reports and Initiatives

This page includes select publications and scientific articles relevant to minority health by the Office of Health Equity (OHE), CDC, HHS, and others. For further information, please see CDC Publications.

Rural Health MMWR

Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities Among Rural Adults — United States, 2012–2015

Everyone should have the opportunity to be as healthy as possible, but recent data show many racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes in people living in rural areas. Race and ethnicity are important to consider when assessing health outcomes and health differences in rural communities.

What are health disparities?

Health disparities are differences in health outcomes and their causes among groups of people. Reducing health disparities creates better health for all Americans.

Health disparities in rural communities

This MMWR examines health disparities among racial/ethnic populations in rural communities in the U.S. While researchers often refer to differences between rural and urban communities, this report emphasizes the importance of research on disparities within rural communities. These communities often have worse health outcomes and less access to care than urban communities do.

Key points of this report show that in rural areas of the U.S.:

  • More American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) persons, Black persons, and Hispanic/Latino persons self-reported fair or poor health than White persons.
  • Frequent mental distress was reported more often among AI/AN and Black persons compared to White persons in rural areas. Depression was also more common among AI/AN persons than White persons.
  • Fewer Black and Hispanic/Latino persons reported having health care coverage than White persons.
  • Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander persons less often had a personal health care provider than White persons.
  • Compared to most other racial/ethnic groups, White persons more often reported binge drinking.
  • Black and AI/AN persons were more likely to have obesity or severe obesity than White persons.

An overarching goal of Healthy People 2020 is to achieve health equity and eliminate health disparities. To reach this goal and improve the health of populations, health programs must know what the needs are and how they can work with community groups and others to address them. Health programs should examine data by race/ethnicity and other demographics and use community health needs assessments to better identify disparities and develop effective initiatives to eliminate them. Programs can implement the National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards to increase their ability to address the health needs of rural racial/ethnic populations. Using these standards will help rural health programs not only be more effective overall but also reduce disparities.

Learn more about this report and other rural health topics.

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator’s blog on National Rural Health Day

Vital Signs, African American Health

CDC Vital Signs: Racial Disparities in Age-Specific Mortality Among Blacks or African Americans — United States, 1999–2015

This CDC Vital Signs looks at disparities in life expectancy and the leading causes of death for Black persons compared with White persons in the U.S. The death rate for African-Americans (black persons) declined 25 percent from 1999 to 2015, but disparities still persist between Black and White persons. Although Black persons as a group are living longer, their life expectancy is still 4 years less than that of White persons. The study also found that Black persons in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are more likely to live with or die from conditions that typically occur at older ages in White persons, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Social and economic conditions, such as poverty, contribute to gaps in health differences between Black and White persons, according to the report. In all age groups, the analysis showed that Black persons had lower educational attainment and home ownership and nearly twice the rate of poverty and unemployment as White persons.

Among the key findings from the report:

  • Black persons ages 18 to 64 are at higher risk of early death than White persons.
  • Disparities in the leading causes of death for Black persons compared with White persons are pronounced by early and middle adulthood, including homicide and chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
  • Black persons ages 18-34 years and 35-49 years are nine times and five times, respectively, as likely to die from homicide as White persons in the same age groups.
  • Black persons ages 35-64 are 50 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than White persons.
  • Black persons ages 18-49 years, are two times as likely to die from heart disease than White persons.
  • Black persons have the highest death rate for all cancers combined compared with White persons.

MMWR: Vital Signs: Racial Disparities in Age-Specific Mortality Among Blacks or African Americans — United States, 1999–2015

Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities
Strategies for Reducing Health Disparities

CDC’s OHE published related MMWR reports in 2014 and again in 2016 to highlight effective public health programs for addressing health disparities. Select the following links to read the report overviews:

Vital Signs, Hispanic Health

CDC Vital Signs: Leading Causes of Death, Prevalence of Diseases and Risk Factors, and Use of Health Services Among Hispanics in the United States — 2009–2013

The CDC Vital Signs: Leading Causes of Death, Prevalence of Diseases and Risk Factors, and Use of Health Services Among Hispanics in the United States — 2009–2013, published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), is CDC’s first national study of leading causes of death, disease prevalence, risk factors, and access to health services among Hispanic or Latino persons living in the U.S.. The study, conducted by CDC’s OHE, used recent national census and health surveillance data to assess differences among non-Hispanic White persons, Hispanic/Latino persons, 1 out of 6 people living in the U.S. are Hispanic/Latino and Hispanic/Latino origin subgroups overall and by sex and nativity, and to identify subpopulations of Hispanic/Latino persons at greatest risk for leading causes of death and disease.

For more information, including the report, infographics, a digital press kit, and related materials, see CDC’s Vital Signs, Hispanic Health Webpage.

For just the report, it can be found directly at MMWR Weekly, May 8, 2015 / 64(17);469-478.

CDC Health Disparities & Inequalities Report (CHDIR)

The CDC Health Disparities and Inequalities Report is a series of periodic, consolidated assessments that highlight health disparities by sex, race, and ethnicity, income, education, disability status, and other social characteristics in the U.S.

The reports provide analysis and reporting of the recent trends and ongoing variations in health disparities and inequalities in selected social and health indicators, both of which are important steps in encouraging actions and facilitating accountability to reduce modifiable disparities by using interventions that are effective and scalable.

For more information, including reports dating back to 2011, report fact sheets, topic tables, and related materials, see CDC’s Minority Health, Health Disparities & Inequalities Report.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)
Other Health Disparities & Related Reports
1985 HHS Heckler Report

CDC’s Office of Minority Health was established by the CDC Director on August 8, 1988 as a small coordination office, set up in response to Secretary Heckler’s 1985 landmark report on minority health. To view the full report, see the link below:

The Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black & Minority Health Margaret M. Heckler, HHS Secretary October 16, 1985.