Many populations in America, whether defined by race, ethnicity, immigrant status, disability, sex, gender, or geography, experience higher rates of certain diseases and more deaths and suffering from them compared with the general population. While the diversity of the American population is one of the nation’s greatest assets, one of its greatest challenges is reducing the profound disparity in health status of its racial and ethnic minority, rural, low-income, and other underserved populations.

The examination of biological factors is fundamental in understanding the development and progression of diseases and has traditionally been the focus of research on minority health and health disparities. NIMHD has been a leader in increasing the scientific community’s focus on non-biological factors such as socioeconomics, politics, discrimination, culture, and environment in relation to health disparities.

NIMHD invests in research and fosters collaborations and partnerships to promote and support evidence-based science to inform practice and policy. Its programs and initiatives provide a leading edge in enhancing the scientific knowledge base and designing interventions to improve health outcomes to reduce and ultimately lead to the elimination of health disparities.

Through NIMHD’s leadership, health disparities has become a recognized scientific field of study, which has evolved from documenting and investigating differences in health status and risk factors among affected populations, to addressing health disparities using traditional and non-traditional research approaches.

Populations with Health Disparities

For NIH, populations that experience health disparities include:

Page updated Oct. 3, 2023