An overview of methods for monitoring social disparities in cancer with an example using trends in lung cancer incidence by area-socioeconomic position and race-ethnicity, 1992-2004

Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Apr 15;167(8):889-99. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwn016. Epub 2008 Mar 15.

Abstract

The authors provide an overview of methods for summarizing social disparities in health using the example of lung cancer. They apply four measures of relative disparity and three measures of absolute disparity to trends in US lung cancer incidence by area-socioeconomic position and race-ethnicity from 1992 to 2004. Among females, measures of absolute and relative disparity suggested that area-socioeconomic and race-ethnic disparities increased over these 12 years but differed widely with respect to the magnitude of the change. Among males, the authors found substantial disagreement among summary measures of relative disparity with respect to the magnitude and the direction of change in disparities. Among area-socioeconomic groups, the index of disparity increased by 47% and the relative concentration index decreased by 116%, while for race-ethnicity the index of disparity increased by 36% and the Theil index increased by 13%. The choice of a summary measure of disparity may affect the interpretation of changes in health disparities. Important issues to consider are the reference point from which differences are measured, whether to measure disparity on the absolute or relative scale, and whether to weight disparity measures by population size. A suite of indicators is needed to provide a clear picture of health disparity change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian Americans*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Poverty
  • Risk Factors
  • SEER Program
  • Social Class
  • Social Justice*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States / epidemiology