Iowa Healthcare Collaborative

Health Disparities

Health disparities are differences in health outcomes based on individual social and/or economic circumstances.  In other words, personal health and health experiences are affected by socioeconomic status, geographic location (living situation), gender identity, sexual orientation, mental health, disability status, racial or ethnic group, religious affiliation, immigration status, age, and/or other discriminatory situations [1-2].  

The goal of the Iowa Healthcare Collaborative (IHC) Hospital Improvement Innovation Network (HIIN) is to provide education and resources to engage healthcare providers to improve the quality, safety, and value of patient care to help reduce negative outcomes associated with health disparities. The purpose of this toolkit is to improve access to health disparity resources and to educate healthcare professionals about health disparities.

Educational Resources

County Health Rankings and Roadmaps
Providers and healthcare facilities can use this website to access health outcomes data for each county in Iowa.  Disparities data can be found in the downloadable “Health Factors” ranking data for Iowa. 

Culture, Language and Health Literacy 
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, have provided information on gender, race/ethnicity, special populations, age, research and education. Some resources on this webpage are available in Spanish. 

Healthy People 2020
Providers and healthcare facilities can use this website to access current information related to health disparities in the United States. 

Roadmap to Reduce Disparities 
The University of Chicago, with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, created this guide for healthcare providers and organizations to help improve the quality of care for disparate populations. This guide consists of six steps to help organizations incorporate methods to reduce disparities.  

Rural Health Disparities 
Providers and healthcare facilities can use this website to access resources on health disparities in rural areas. This website contains publications, maps and funding opportunities. 

Printable Tools

Patient Health Care Preference Questionnaire (PDF)
Providers and healthcare facilities can use this example questionnaire, also available in Spanish, to help identify the health needs and preferences of patients.  The first page is in English and the second page is in Spanish. 

Tool for Assessing Cultural Competence Training (TACCT)
The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has created this online resource to better understand the TACCT and how to use the TACCT. This website also has information on cultural competency education.


Guidelines for Care of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Patients
Providers and healthcare facilities can use this guideline from the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association to help create a welcoming environment for LGBT patients.  The guideline includes information on sensitivity training, confidentiality, and general guidelines for patient-provider discussions.   

HRET Disparities Toolkit 
Providers and healthcare facility staff can use this toolkit from the Health Research and Educational Trust to guide conversations with patients when discussing race, ethnicity and primary language information.  This toolkit contains information on collecting data, engaging the community and additional resources for patient-centered care. 

Articles and Reports

Health Disparities Among Children in Iowa
The University of Iowa Public Policy Center worked with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Child Health Specialty Clinics to review the results from a survey completed in 2010.  The survey, a population based survey, was performed to identify health disparities for children in Iowa.  They found interesting results in relation to child overall health status, insurance coverage, health care issues, health behaviors, and the social environment. 

Health Disparities in Rural Women
This committee opinion article from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, reviews disparities in relation to geographic location and reproductive health outcomes. The authors provide information on healthcare access issues and clinical recommendations to help reduce disparities related to rural health. 

Created: August 2014
Updated: July 2017

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