The human face of health disparities

Public Health Rep. Jul-Aug 2003;118(4):303-8. doi: 10.1093/phr/118.4.303.


In the last 20 years, the issue of disparities in health between racial/ethnic groups has moved from the realm of common sense and anecdote to the realm of science. Hard, cold data now force us to consider what many had long taken for granted. Not only does health differ by race/ethnicity, but our health care system itself is deeply biased. From lack of diversity in the leadership and workforce, to ethnocentric systems of care, to biased clinical decision-making, the American health care system is geared to treat the majority, while the minority suffers. The photos shown here are of patients and scenes that recall some of the important landmarks in research on racial/ethnic disparities in health. The purpose is to put faces and humanity onto the numbers. While we now have great bodies of evidence upon which to lobby for change, in the end, each statistic still represents a personal tragedy or an individual triumph.

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Ethnic Groups*
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups*
  • Photography
  • Prejudice*
  • Public Health Administration / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care
  • Research
  • Socioeconomic Factors*
  • United States