Health outcomes

What Are Health Disparities?

The Healthy People 3030 initiative by the federal Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) says that a healthy disparity is a "health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage". 

Examples of health disparities between groups: 

Everybody's health is different, but some people are exposed to more health risks because of their identity, financial status, environment, or other reasons. Racism has devastating effects on the health of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color).

BIPOC receive worse healthcare because of racism.

BIPOC patients don't receive the same quality of healthcare as white patients, regardless of their income level or education. Some BIPOC who are ill don't go to the doctor because they don't expect fair treatment.

The generational trauma from racism causes health problems.

The effects of structural racism are passed from generation to generation. One person's trauma can infect families and communities for years.

Who Is Affected by Health Disparities?

Insights from the data below:  

  • Sodo and South Beacon Hill have significantly higher rates of Diabetes, at a rate between 15-17%. Many other neighborhoods in Seattle have lower rates of Diabetes compared to national averages.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native communities have lower health insurance coverage. About 11% of BIPOC insurance in Seattle, while less than 4% of white residents lack insurance.

How Can We Measure Health Disparities?

Health encompasses many aspects of life, and it's difficult to measure accurately. Data about physical health data, such as lifespan or cancer rates, is not enough to understand health disparities. In order to understand disparities, we need data about social health, such as access to education or neighborhood income levels.

The Healthy People 2030 report will use five key social determinants of health:

  • Education Access and Quality
  • Health Care Access and Quality
  • Economic Stability
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment
  • Social and Community Context

The United States has made progress on collecting social health data in recent years, but there is still much more to be done. For example, because of past health disparities, African Americans participate in studies at lower rates, making the current data incomplete.

Stories from the Community

Free Healthcare Clinic & Seattle Stand Down

The annual free clinic at the Seattle Center provides vital care and check-ups to those unable to access health care due to lack of insurance or inability to pay. For many, this clinic provides hope and relief.

Dr. Ruby Inouye Shu

Dr. Ruby was a Japanese American woman who lived through some of Seattle's darkest days and survived. She became a doctor and served Seattle's Japanese American community throughout her life.

What Are Some Root Causes of Racial Health Disparities?

Almost every part of your life—from childhood trauma to pollution in your hometown—can impact your health and access to proper care.

Who Is Taking Action?

Explore the City of Seattle's Actions Towards Racial Equity

See who to contact, what we'll deliver, and how we plan on meeting our desired outcomes.