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Data and Measurement Issues in the Analysis of Health Disparities

Disparity;inequity;measurement;surveys;indirect estimation
Objective. To describe measurement challenges and strategies in identifying and analyzing health disparities and inequities.

Methods. We discuss the limitations of existing data sources for measuring health disparities and inequities, describe current strategies to address those limitations, and explore the potential of emerging strategies.

Principal Findings. Larger national sample sizes are necessary to identify disparities for major population subgroups. Collecting self-reported race and granular ethnicity data may reduce some measurement errors, but it raises other methodological questions. The assessment of health inequities presents particular challenges, requiring analysis of the interactive effects of multiple determinants of health. Indirect estimation and modeling methods are likely to be important tools for estimating health disparities and inequities for the foreseeable future.

Conclusions. Interdisciplinary training and collaborative research models will be essential for future disparities research. Evaluation of evolving methodologies for assessing health disparities should be a priority for health services researchers in the next decade.

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