Health equity research is a branch of health services research that explores why some subgroups of the population have worse health outcomes than other sub-populations. Research in this area pays particular attention to groups that have experienced obstacles to health and access to healthcare that are associated with historical, contemporary and/or socioeconomic disadvantages. Health equity research aims to attain the highest level of health for all people by promoting efforts to eliminate differences in health that are avoidable and unjust.

Researchers in this area focus on health disparities, which are differences in health outcomes among groups of people. Sub-populations often included in health disparities studies are defined by age, sex, race, ethnicity and sexual preference. An example of a health disparity is the fact that African Americans and Latino Americans are more likely to die from certain gastrointestinal cancers than white Americans. In addition to identifying such differences, health services researchers aim to determine the root causes of high cancer death rates in these groups and to develop programs to reduce cancer risk among these patients.

Health equity researchers focus on three primary areas of study:

  • Uncovering areas where health disparities exist and who they impact — population-level science to uncover disease states where there are health differences by age, sex, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual preference, geographic region or other factors.
  • Understanding the causes of known health disparities — once a health disparity has been identified, researchers work to understand why the disparity exists. Differences can be rooted in access to healthcare, biologic or genetic causes, behavioral patterns, or other factors.
  • Develop interventions to reduce and eliminate health disparities — develop or identify specific interventions that most effectively reduce disparities. There is also an effort to disseminate health interventions into affected communities and implement programs to improve the health of affected populations.
Yvonne Flores, PhD
Yvonne Flores, PhD
Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil
Folasade P. May, MD, PhD, MPhil

Dr. Bastani’s research interests are in addressing health inequities, with a focus on conducting rigorous yet pragmatic individual, community, organization and system-directed intervention trials to improve access and reduce disparities. 

Dr. Flores ...information coming soon.

Dr. Glenn ...information coming soon

Dr. May's research focuses on eliminating patient, provider, and system-level barriers to colorectal cancer screening in Federally Qualified Health Centers and in the Veterans Health Administration.  

Dr. Ong's research interests focus on improving the delivery of appropriate and efficient health care. His research has applied this focus in several areas of general medicine, including health system-based care, mental health, tobacco control, and and GI/liver related research.