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African Americans Are More Aware of Racial and Ethnic Disparities

By Jorge E. Bañales

African Americans are more likely to be aware of disparities between whites and their own communities as well as between whites and other racial and ethnic minority groups, a study finds.

The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS') Office of Minority Health (OMH) conducted the Trends in U.S. Public Awareness of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health (1999-2010) study from April to June 2010.

The study found that 89 percent of African Americans were aware of their health disparities with Whites, while 84 percent were aware of their health disparities with Hispanic/Latinos.

The study also found that 72 percent of Hispanic/Latinos were aware of health disparities between them and Whites and 60 percent of Asian American/Pacific Islanders (AAPI) were aware of health differences between AAPIs and Whites.

Whites and Hispanic/Latinos had similar numbers when it came to awareness of health disparities between African Americans and whites, with 57 percent of Hispanic/Latinos and 55 percent of Whites perceiving differences.

Whites and AAPIs had similar numbers when it came to awareness of health disparities between Hispanic/Latinos and Whites, with 56 and 57 percent respectively.

However, Whites, African Americans, Hispanic/Latinos, and AAPIs were not as aware of health disparities between AAPIs and Whites. Only 38 percent of African Americans, 27 percent of AAPIs, 25 percent of Hispanic/Latinos, and 14 percent of Whites were aware of the health disparities.

The study was based on a national random sample of 3,159 telephone interviews with adults aged 18 and over, including 1,329 non-Hispanic Whites, 855 non-Hispanic African Americans, 591 Hispanic/Latinos, and 179 Asian American/Pacific Islanders.

It provides a comprehensive analysis of awareness among the U.S. public of health disparities that place a disproportionate burden of preventable disease and premature death on racial and ethnic minorities as compared to the rest of the U.S. population.

Findings from the study paint a broad picture of the extent to which the U.S. population is aware of racial and ethnic health disparities, and how these perceptions have changed over the last decade.

Overall, the data show that people are more aware of disparities in health care access, such as health insurance coverage, costs, and access to providers and quality care. Increases in awareness over time suggest that the general population is becoming more aware that, in the United States, racial and ethnic minority populations are disproportionally affected by a number of serious diseases and conditions.

However, awareness of heath disparities is still quite low overall.

Infant mortality continues to disproportionately affect some minority populations yet awareness of this disparity today is no different than it was in 1999. In addition, findings show that there is no widespread awareness of disparities in HIV/AIDS infection rates, nor is there adequate awareness that some racial and ethnic minority groups are twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as Whites.

These findings serve as a wake-up call and highlight the significant work that remains to be done to inform the U.S. population about health conditions that disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minority groups.

For more information:

Health Affairs Article on Awareness Of Racial And Ethnic Health Disparities Exit Disclaimer

Health Affairs Article on the HHS Disparities Reduction Plan Exit Disclaimer

Study Brief [PDF | 112KB]

2010 General Population [PDF | 257KB]

2009 General Population [PDF | 254KB

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Content Last Modified: 2/2/2012 3:50:00 PM
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