This interactive course focuses on some basic issues for public health practice -- how to understand, define and measure health disparity. This course examines the language of health disparity to come to some common understanding of what that term means, explains key measures of health disparity and shows how to calculate them.
This course was originally released in 2005. Given its success as a foundational course, updates were made in 2017 for this new, web-based version.
The course is designed to be accessible to a broad audience of practitioners across all sectors of the public health and related workforce who are concerned about the issue of health disparity. Parts III and IV are more technical; although not required, it is helpful to have a background in statistics, epidemiology, or other related sciences for ease of understanding these sections.
By the end of the first content section (which includes Part I What are Health Disparities? and Part II Issues in Measuring Health Disparities), you will be able to:
- Identify the dimensions of health disparity as described in Healthy People 2020
- List three definitions of health disparity
- Interpret health disparity in graphical representations of data
- Explain relative and absolute disparity
- Describe how reference groups can affect disparity measurement
By the end of the second content section (which includes Part III Measures of Health Disparities and Part IV Analytic Steps in Measuring Health Disparity), you will be able to:
- Describe at least three complex measures of health disparities
- List strengths and weaknesses of at least three health disparity measures
- Summarize the analytic steps in measuring health disparity
John W. Lynch, PhD, MPH, MEd
Sam B. Harper, PhD
Elizabeth Waldman, MPH
This course is maintained by:
The Region V Public Health Training Center is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB6HP31684 Public Health Training Centers ($924,899). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by Region V PHTC, HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.
Updates made in 2017-2018 were supported by the Michigan Public Health Training Center. The Michigan Public Health Training Center is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB6HP27881 Region V Public Health Training Collaborative. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.
Original sponsor statement:
This course has been made possible through funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan Public Health Training Center, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, and Prevention Research Center of Michigan.
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