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Health Disparities Resources & Research Tools


By: Annie Wescott, Research Librarian and Eileen Wafford, Research Librarian

There has been a steady rise in requests for studies related to health disparities in recent years. Defined by Healthy People 2020 as “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage,” the topic health disparities has seen an increase from approximately 11,000 articles published on the topic in 2010 to approximately 16,500 articles in 2020 when utilizing the PubMed health disparities search filter. The importance of this topic makes quality searches a necessity, and the frequency of search requests can often result in a duplication of effort.

Librarians can save researchers time by developing reusable and trusted search strategies. Best practices recommend using validated search filters, which are tested for sensitivity, precision, specificity, and accuracy. Search filters play an important role in comprehensive and systematic searches. They are especially useful with complex, multifaceted topics like health disparities as they ensure the most relevant and inclusive terminology is being used to capture difficult to locate studies.

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MEDLINE®/PubMed® Health Disparities and Minority Health Search Strategy

Librarians at the National Library of Medicine developed the MEDLINE®/PubMed® Health Disparities and Minority Health Search Strategy which identifies a subset of citations on the topic of Health Disparities. This search filter utilizes controlled vocabulary and title/abstract searching related to various topics under the health disparity umbrella, and was last updated in May 2019. Librarians and informationists at Galter Health Sciences Library & Learning Center worked to validate a portion of this search filter with a focus on health disparities related to race and ethnicity. Their validation process concluded that the existing filter is an effective search strategy in relation to race and ethnicity; however, they recommend more keywords and broader use of truncation to improve its sensitivity.

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Health Disparities Resources at Galter

The Galter Library is constantly striving to update our electronic resources and bring current tools to our patrons' desktops. The Library added to its electronic collections and now provides online access to these information resources addressing health disparities.

Are you engaged in health disparities research? Work with your Galter liaison librarian to ensure you have access to the best tools for the job.

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Updated: November 29, 2021