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Article | December 2020

Health Disparities

Learn about health disparities and find resources to address health disparities among your patients.

What are health disparities?

The National Partnership for Action (NPA) has developed the following definition of health disparities:

A health disparity is a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social or economic disadvantage.1

Health disparities negatively affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social and/or economic obstacles to health and/or a clean environment.

Such disparities are not new to health care, but COVID-19 exacerbates existing disparities in many sub-populations.

Health disparities can impact the following:

  • Racial or ethnic groups
  • Religion
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Mental health
  • Cognitive, sensory, or physical disability
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Geographic location
  • Characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion

Featured Resources

Cultural Competency

Health Disparities: How Your Practice and Patients May Be Affected

Cigna Healthcare Language Assistance Services

How to Address Health Disparities

Cigna HealthcareSM strongly supports the American Hospital Association’s #123forEquity Pledge to Act Campaign that urges hospital and health system leaders to develop and implement strategies to:

Increase the collection, stratification, and use of race, ethnicity, language preference, and other sociodemographic data to improve quality and safety

Increase cultural competency training to ensure culturally responsive care

Advance diversity in leadership and governance to reflect the communities served

Improve and strengthen community partnerships

1 National Partnership for Action (NPA), http://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/npa/

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