State Addresses Health Disparities

The State of Washington has significant racial and ethnic diversity more than many other areas in the country. This provides the University of Washington (UW) researchers an opportunity to investigate intersectional social and economic inequities to improve health outcomes.

The research team cuts across four UW departments to include Medicine, Nursing, Social Work, and Public Policy, and the team is going to investigate population health in the State across two intersecting vulnerable populations.

The pilot research will use data from the Washington State “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System” (BRFSS) to examine 14 years in terms of trends of disabilities and multiple chronic health conditions. The next step is to look at mental health by race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity to help identify high-risk health groups within the total population.

In conjunction with the study, the researchers will pilot test an online population-based survey designed to identify key modifiable mechanisms that will include not only social and community level risks but also economic inequities such as lack of housing and mobility.

Based on the information obtained and studied, the researchers are going to develop and test interventions that will reduce health disparities at the state level, ensure sustainability, and importantly, extend educational training so students will be able to better serve underrepresented communities.

In another study, researchers at UW in the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, and Social Work, are going to work with agricultural workers to assess and address health disparities related to occupational, environmental, socioeconomic, and biological stressors faced by rural underserved  agricultural communities.

Researchers are going to evaluate the health and living conditions of farm workers through surveys and in-depth home assessments. This research data paired with environmental data, will enable community driven solutions to be used to improve health equity.

Go to for a video on the community partnership to help the farm workers in rural areas.

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