The Critical Role of Racial/Ethnic Data Disaggregation for Health Equity
Population-level health outcomes and measures of well-being are often described relative to broad racial/ethnic categories such as White or Caucasian; Black or African American; Latino or Hispanic; Asian American; Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander; or American Indian and Alaska Native. However, the aggregation of data into these groups masks critical within-group differences and disparities, limiting the health and social services fields’ abilities to target their resources where most needed. While researchers and policymakers have recognized the importance of disaggregating racial/ethnic data—and many organizations have advocated for it over the years—progress has been slow and disparate. The ongoing lack of racial/ethnic data disaggregation perpetuates existing inequities in access to much-needed resources that can ensure health and well-being. In its efforts to help build a Culture of Health and promote health equity, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has supported activities aimed to advance the meaningful disaggregation of racial/ethnic data—at the collection, analysis, and reporting phases. This special issue presents further evidence for the importance of disaggregation, the technical and policy challenges to creating change in practice, and the implications of improving the use of race and ethnicity data to identify and address gaps in health.
Kauh, TJ; Read, JG; Scheitler, AJ
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