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Research In Health Disparities

Exploring Health Disparities in Integrated Communities: Overview of the EHDIC Study

Thomas LaVeist, Roland Thorpe, Jr., Terra Bowen-Reid, John Jackson, Tiffany Gary, Darrell Gaskin, and Dorothy Browne


Progress in understanding the nature of health disparities requires data that are race-comparative while overcoming confounding between race, socioeconomic status and segregation. The Exploring Health Disparities in Integrated Communities (EHDIC) study is a multi-site cohort study that will address these confounders by examining the nature of health disparities within racially integrated communities without racial disparities in socioeconomic status. Data consisted of a structured questionnaire and blood pressure measurements collected from a sample of the adult population (age 18 and older) of two racially integrated contiguous census tracts. This manuscript reports on baseline results from the first EHDIC site, a low-income urban community in southwest Baltimore, Maryland (EHDIC-SWB). In the adjusted models, African Americans had lower rates of smoking and fair or poor self-rated health than whites, but no race differences in obesity, drinking, or physical inactivity. Our findings indicate that accounting for race differences in exposure to social conditions reduces or eliminates some health-related disparities. Moreover, these findings suggest that solutions to the seemingly intractable health disparities problem that target social determinants may be effective, especially those factors that are confounded with racial segregation. Future research in the area of health disparities should seek ways to account for confounding from SES and segregation.

KEYWORDS: Health disparities, Confounding, Race, Socioeconomic status, Segregation, Integration, Urban, Community

Journal of Urban Health. 2008 Jan;85(1):11-21