• Health economics;
  • social determinants of health;
  • racial/ethnic differences in health and health care;
  • personalized medicine;
  • genomics


To extend recent conceptual and methodological advances in disparities research to include the incorporation of genomic information in analyses of racial/ethnic disparities in health care and health outcomes.

Data Sources

Published literature on human genetic variation, the role of genetics in disease and response to treatment, and methodological developments in disparities research.

Study Design

We present a conceptual framework for incorporating genomic information into the Institute of Medicine definition of racial/ethnic disparities in health care, identify key concepts used in disparities research that can be informed by genomics research, and illustrate the incorporation of genomic information into current methods using the example of HER-2 mutations guiding care for breast cancer.

Principal Findings

Genomic information has not yet been incorporated into disparities research, though it has direct relevance to concepts of race/ethnicity, health status, appropriate care, and socioeconomic status. The HER-2 example demonstrates how available genetic information can be incorporated into current disparities methods to reduce selection bias and measurement error. Advances in health information infrastructure may soon make standardized genetic information more available to health services researchers.


Genomic information can refine measurement of racial/ethnic disparities in health care and health outcomes and should be included wherever possible in disparities research.