Health Disparities

Profound inequities in health care access, affordability, and quality of care result in poorer health outcomes for underserved populations.

Our research in health disparities dates back to a seminal 1968 project funded by the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, in which Kaiser Permanente Northwest worked with nearly 50 neighborhood health centers in impoverished areas. In addition, the Office of Economic Opportunity’s focus on providing dental care to impoverished families led KPNW to become one of the first HMOs in the nation to offer comprehensive dental coverage.

Today, we pursue disparities research both within the Kaiser Permanente health plan and in many community settings, including federally qualified health centers in several states. This program of research is greatly strengthened by the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of our study populations. By viewing public health through this lens, we are able to ask key questions about how different population groups experience illness, disease, medications, treatments, and health care delivery itself.

Our commitment to equality in health care is embodied in the Merwyn (“Mitch”) Greenlick Endowed Scientist for Health Disparities position, held by Gloria Coronado, PhD. Dr. Coronado’s research has a strong focus on the prevention and early detection of cancer, a disease that hits underserved populations especially hard due to such factors as poor access to health care and uneven quality of care. Dr. Coronado has led several initiatives to develop and test clinic-based approaches to raise the rates of cancer screening. She has collaborated broadly with Latino-serving, community-based organizations both locally and nationally.

Featured Studies


New online tool helps patients manage depression

A new online tool is helping people with depression improve their mood, change their thinking patterns and feel better over time.