Toward a fourth generation of disparities research to achieve health equity

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Thomas, Stephen B.
Quinn, Sandra Crouse
Butler, James
Fryer, Craig S.
Garza, Mary A.
Thomas, Stephen B. and Quinn, Sandra Crouse and Butler, James and Fryer, Craig S. and Garza, Mary A. (2011) Toward a fourth generation of disparities research to achieve health equity. Annual Review of Public Health, 32. pp. 399-416. (In Press)
Achieving health equity, driven by the elimination of health disparities, is a goal of Healthy People 2020. In recent decades, the improvement in health status has been remarkable for the U.S. population as a whole. However, racial and ethnic minority populations continue to lag behind whites with a quality of life diminished by illness from preventable chronic diseases and a life span cut short by premature death. We examine a conceptual framework of three generations of health disparities research to understand (a) data trends, (b) factors driving disparities, and (c) solutions for closing the gap. We propose a new, fourth generation of research grounded in public health critical race praxis, utilizing comprehensive interventions to address race, racism, and structural inequalities and advancing evaluation methods to foster our ability to eliminate disparities. This new generation demands that we address the researcher's own biases as part of the research process.