Health Disparities Resources
Learn more about health disparities, community based participatory research, and the community immersion experiences of our T-SCORE teachers.
Health Disparities Definition
Health disparities are often defined as disproportions between different races/ethnic groups and different levels of socioeconomic status, but these are not the only ways in which disparities can occur. Health disparities are also experienced by individuals who are disproportionately affected by access to quality health care, physical environment and quality of life.
It has been shown that one-forth of a person’s health outcomes are affected by personal lifestyle choices and one-fifth are affected by direct medical care. The rest (more than half) of a person’s health outcomes likely stem from factors in the social and built environment. Individuals often do not have control over these influences, and they are worsened by the existence of health disparities.
Why Address Health Disparities?
A health disparity occurs when one segment of the population is disproportionately affected by a disease or condition. In Wyandotte County, underrepresented groups have higher rates of disease and are more likely to experience a lack of health coverage and other necessary resources.
Currently, Wyandotte County is the lowest ranking county for health outcomes when compared to all other ranked counties in the state of Kansas.
Through T-SCORE and its efforts to facilitate innovative science educational opportunities among underrepresented and minority students, we are hoping to see these disparities reduced and eventually erased.
Health Disparities and T-SCORE
T-SCORE professional development strives to enable teachers to use authentic tools in their lessons to connect students with the health realities of their communities and to provide them with knowledge and tools to help improve health outcomes across counties and in their particular neighborhoods.
Below is a Wordle created from the collection of health disparities knowledge our teachers shared at the end of the T-SCORE Summer Institute (created by Dr. Megha Ramaswamy):
Mini-Unit on Health Disparities
The Introduction to Health Disparities “mini-unit” created by the T-SCORE team is geared towards health disparities in Kansas, with a particular emphasis on Wyandotte County. However, materials can be adapted for any region using the County Health Rankings Website. All resources can be found on here.
Authentic Tools Used by Community Health Researchers
Photovoice – a technique used to give voices that aren’t heard
“Photovoice is a process by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their community through a specific photographic technique. As a practice based in the production of knowledge, photovoice has three main goals:
- To enable people to record and reflect their community’s strengths and concerns
- To promote critical dialogue and knowledge about important issues through large and small group discussion of photographs
- To reach policymakers.”
(Wang and Burris, 1997)
Students can take pictures of the surroundings, and analyze them within the context of health disparities using the “SHOWeD” Method:
- What do you See here?
- What is really Happening?
- How does this relate to Our lives?
- Why does this problem or strength exist?
- What can we Do about it?
Ethnography– writing about people
Ethnography describes how individuals’ micro-interactions (everyday behavior) impacts the macro-factors in our environment that influence decisions (i.e. policy, culture, race, class, gender, religion, environment).
Ethnography, when used in the classroom can ultimately lead to the generation of hypotheses and research questions for students to study the effects of health disparities on the population.
The steps to Ethnography include:
- Description of the setting – free writing activity. Get students acquainted with listening, sharing ideas, and providing feedback to one another
- Reflexivity – who are you in this setting? Creates a personal connection, analyzes power dynamics in the community, and reflects on historical contributions to present day phenomena.
- Quoting – generating qualitative data. This allows for the opportunity to construct observations into field notes, the process of extracting quotes, and begin the analysis of their meanings to the larger context.
- Macro-Theory – tie to the “big idea.” Describe the difference between opinion and fact, connect to the larger context.
This project was supported by the National Institutes of Health Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) under Award Number R25OD020214.
The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
For more information, go to the SEPA T-SCORE Project Page.