Thirty Years of Disparities Intervention Research

What Are We Doing to Close Racial and Ethnic Gaps in Health Care?
An infographic shows the "roadmap" to reduce disparities.

Disparities interventions have traditionally focused on the patient, using strategies aimed at education and training. To improve disparities interventions the focus should expand to the system.

The Issue:

Reducing disparities is a complex issue. This study helps organizations identify interventions best fitting their needs and contexts, and underscores where further research is needed so minority health might be improved.

Key Findings

  • The most common strategy to improve minority health was delivering education and training (37%).

  • The most common tactic was delivering education about a disease (14%), followed by education in disease self-management (11%).

  • Most interventions targeted patients (50%) and community members (32%).

  • The most common disease studied was HIV (20% of articles), while the least common disease was depression (6%).

Conclusion:

This study revealed that interventions have primarily focused on the patient. Going forward, the focus should expand to the system, incorporating: improved communication to ensure effective education; better bridges between the care system and the community; and more policy interventions.

About the Study:

A total of 391 disparities intervention articles published between 1979 and 2011 were examined. Interventions were identified using the systematic reviews conducted as part of the RWJF Finding Answers: Disparities Research for Change program. A taxonomy identifying the tactic, the strategy, or the level was developed using qualitative theme analysis. A total of 44 tactics, nine strategies, and six levels were identified.