New research textbook provides expert guidance for advancing health disparities science


The Science of Health Disparities Research integrates various research disciplines into one comprehensive, first-of-its-kind volume.


Credit: © Wiley-Blackwell

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), part of the National Institutes of Health, has published an authoritative resource textbook designed to help researchers better understand the framework for conducting minority health and health disparities science.

Researchers at NIMHD–along with leading experts and thought leaders from around the country — have published The Science of Health Disparities Research as a first-of-its-kind volume that provides state-of-the-science information to guide researchers in advancing theory, refining measurement, improving investigative methods, and diversifying scientific research.

This textbook will help researchers identify research questions, design and conduct studies with culturally appropriate interventions, and advance science while proposing solutions and improving health.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted disparities that have taken center-stage as one of our greatest modern-day public health challenges, and the timing of this textbook meets with the demand for research on minority health and health disparities science that will be required for years to come,” said NIMHD Director Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D., one of the book’s editors.

Over the years, research in minority health and health disparities has evolved from a basic descriptive understanding of what health disparities are and who is most affected, to discovery of the complexity of factors involved in health outcomes. Now there is a new resource that provides up-to-date information on conducting clinical and translational health disparities studies.

With contributions from more than 100 recognized scholars and thought leaders in the field, this textbook describes how using an interdisciplinary approach can reduce inequalities in population health studies, the importance of adding community engagement to the research process, and the ways that vigorous research can promote social justice. It also features examples from contemporary research, highlights conceptual models, and includes a broad range of scientific perspectives. The lifelong work of the scientists, clinicians, and community-based researchers and their contributions to the scientific literature on minority health and health disparities research provide a strong foundation for this text.

“Health disparities create complicated issues to resolve, and gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, employment, education, income level, and living conditions can all be factors,” said Irene Dankwa-Mullan, M.D., M.P.H., chief health equity officer for IBM Watson Health, and former deputy director of scientific programs at NIMHD, as well as one of the textbook’s editors. “This book highlights some of the many facets that contribute to designing productive, meaningful, robust, and participatory scientific studies with stakeholder communities.”

This textbook will be useful to a variety of audiences and serves as an essential resource for trainees and clinical researchers in health services, behavioral science, population science, public health and basic science as it intersects with clinical studies. Furthermore, health care policy makers, epidemiologists, intervention scientists, clinicians, particularly those working with minority, vulnerable, or underserved populations, health disparity scientists, community-based researchers, and research institutes will also benefit from the textbook. It will guide policies and practices addressing diseases, disorders, and gaps in health outcomes that are more prevalent and have grown in minority populations and socially disadvantaged communities.

Covering the spectrum of health disparities research, the textbook defines the field of minority health and health disparities science; explains basic definitions, principles, and concepts for identifying, understanding, and addressing health disparities; and suggests new directions in scholarship and research. It also discusses population health training, capacity building, and the transdisciplinary tools needed to advance health equity.

The Science of Health Disparities Research features 26 chapters that span the breadth and depth of health disparities research, including:

  • Definitions, Principles, and Concepts for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research

  • Racial/Ethnic, Socioeconomic, and Other Social Determinants

  • Applying Self-report Measures in Minority Health and Health Disparities Research

  • Applications of Big Data Science and Analytic Techniques for Health Disparities Research

  • Healthcare and Public Policy: Challenges and Opportunities for Research

  • Addressing Disparities in Access to High-quality Care

  • Role of Electronic Health Records and Health Information Technology in Addressing Health Disparities

  • Recruitment, Inclusion, and Diversity in Clinical Trials

  • Workforce Diversity and Capacity Building to Address Health Disparities

“Part of this textbook examines how social, historic, and contemporary injustices may influence the health of racial and ethnic minorities,” said Dr. Dankwa-Mullan. “Beyond providing guidance on conducting health disparities research, it should also help scientists translate their results into real-world solutions to these problems.”

For information on how to access The Science of Health Disparities Research, visit


About NIMHD: NIMHD leads scientific research to improve minority health and reduce health disparities by conducting and supporting research; planning, reviewing, coordinating, and evaluating all minority health and health disparities research at NIH; promoting and supporting the training of a diverse research workforce; translating and disseminating research information; and fostering collaborations and partnerships. For more information about NIMHD, visit

About NIH: NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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