Health Disparities

The National Cancer Institute has designated reducing health disparities as a special challenge. The Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS) health disparities mission is to monitor the differential burden of cancer among Americans and promote and conduct research that identifies and addresses the economic, social, cultural, psychological, behavioral, and biological mechanisms contributing to these disparities across the cancer control continuum and throughout the human lifespan.

From the surveillance perspective, several data and methodologic issues exist. Through program support and collaboration, there has been improvement in the data systems to advance our understanding of health disparities, particularly the complex factors that are associated with or mitigate differences in health status or outcome. Included in this constellation of issues are those related to:

  • misclassification of race/ethnicity for cancer cases and deaths,
  • limited data on measures of socioeconomic status at the individual and societal levels,
  • identification of indicators for health disparities and indices or summary measures of health disparities within a population group, and
  • the conflicting objectives of protecting confidentiality in the context of reporting data for small geographic areas or small subsets of population groups.

Last modified:
20 Jul 2006
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