Health Disparities

Health disparities, defined by PIRE using the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities’ definition, are differences in the incidence, prevalence, mortality, and burden of diseases and other adverse health conditions that exist among specific populations in the United States. Some of the population groups who are considered to be health disparate include:

  • Racial and ethnic minorities (e.g., African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Asians, Latinos, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders)
  • Low socioeconomic status populations
  • Rural populations
Healthy People 2020, noting that, “If a health outcome is seen in a greater or lesser extent between populations, there is disparity,” includes—in addition to the above—gender, sexual identity, age, disability, and geographic location as attributes that can cause health disparities.


In 2013, PIRE launched an initiative to capitalize on PIRE’s expertise in health disparities and expand its business portfolio in that arena. Through this initiative, the Health Disparities (HD) Team gathered information internally on the populations and health conditions and issues that PIRE researchers have studied. Despite the fact that most of PIRE’s research in this area had not been specifically labeled as health disparities research, it became abundantly clear that PIRE, in fact, has conducted a considerable amount of research on populations who experience health disparities as well as some of the issues that disproportionately affect health disparate groups.

PIRE has considerable expertise with several racial and ethnic minority populations who experience health disparities, as well as on the health conditions and issues that affect these groups, often disproportionately. Indeed, PIRE scientists demonstrate thought leadership on substance abuse issues that affect health disparate populations and is a significant authority on several other issues, including health care access, cultural tailoring of interventions, and intimate partner violence. Children and adolescents are a particular focus in the PIRE health disparities related portfolio of research.