Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic

Racial Disparities

  • Beverley Russell
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_633

Racial disparities are the unfair, unjust, unequal, or unnecessary care or treatment of a group of people predicated on their race. To accurately define the term racial disparities, it is important to give a brief definition to each word. The term “racial” refers to a genetically distinguished group of people or to a characteristic of race or races. Race is a social construct, meaning, rather than being a biological construct; the definition is constructed and imposed collectively by a society. Race, refers to a social group – often that shares a cultural heritage and ancestry. Hence the historical definition of race is a distinct type or species, sharing manifest characteristics such as structure, temperament, and mental abilities. Race is considered a social classification that can influence health by reason of exposure to social factors including: socioeconomic position, lifestyle habits, and the use of health care.

An insidious social problem in the USA since the founding of the...

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Suggested Readings

  1. Adler, N. E., & Stewart, J. (2010). Health disparities across the lifespan: Meaning, methods, and mechanisms. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186, 5–23.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Diez Roux, A. V., & Mair, C. (2010). Neighborhoods and health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1186, 125–145.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Herbert, P. L., Sisk, J. E., & Howell, E. A. (2008). When does a difference become a disparity? Conceptualizing racial and ethnic disparities in health. Health Affairs, 27(2), 374–382.Google Scholar
  4. Meyers, K. (2007). Issue brief: Racial and ethnic health disparities. Oakland: Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy.Google Scholar
  5. Nkechi, T. (2003). Racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system: Can the international race convention provide a basis for relief? Washington: The Open Society Institute.Google Scholar
  6. Whitehead, M. (1991). The concepts and principles of equity and health. Health Promotion International, 6(3), 217–228.Google Scholar
  7. Williams, D. R., & Collins, C. (2001). Racial residential segregation: A fundamental cause of racial disparities in health. Public Health Reports, 116(5), 404–416.PubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar

Suggested Resources

  1. For information on racism. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism
  2. For information on disparity in criminal justice. http://www.ehow.com/facts_4855867_definition-disparity-criminal-justice.html

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beverley Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Community Health Education Research and ServiceNortheastern UniversityBostonUSA