Traversing the Aging Research and Health Equity Divide: Toward Intersectional Frameworks of Research Justice and Participation

Gerontologist. 2022 May 26;62(5):711-720. doi: 10.1093/geront/gnab107.


Meaningful reductions in racial and ethnic inequities in chronic diseases of aging remain unlikely without major advancements in the inclusion of minoritized populations in aging research. While sparse, studies investigating research participation disparities have predominantly focused on individual-level factors and behavioral change, overlooking the influence of study design, structural factors, and social determinants of health on participation. This is also reflected in conventional practices that consistently fail to address established participation barriers, such as study requirements that impose financial, transportation, linguistic, and/or logistical barriers that disproportionately burden participants belonging to minoritized populations. These shortcomings not only risk exacerbating distrust toward research and researchers, but also introduce significant selection biases, diminishing our ability to detect differential mechanisms of risk, resilience, and response to interventions across subpopulations. This forum article examines the intersecting factors that drive both health inequities in aging and disparate participation in aging research among minoritized populations. Using an intersectional, social justice, and emancipatory lens, we characterize the role of social determinants, historical contexts, and contemporaneous structures in shaping research accessibility and inclusion. We also introduce frameworks to accelerate transformative theoretical approaches to fostering equitable inclusion of minoritized populations in aging research.

Keywords: Chronic illness; Disparities (health, racial); Diversity and ethnicity; Research participation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity
  • Geroscience
  • Health Equity*
  • Humans
  • Intersectional Framework
  • Social Justice