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Keywords

Comparative methodology; Health disparities; Health education; Health promotion; Minorities – Health and hygiene; National Negro Health Movement; Race/ethnicity

Abstract

The focus on eliminating racial/ethnic health disparities has brought critical attention to the poor health status of minority populations. Assessing the health outcomes of racial minority groups by comparing them to a racial majority standard is valuable for identifying and monitoring health inequities, but may not be the most effective approach to identifying strategies that can be used to improve minority health outcomes. Health promotion planning models and public health history both suggest that minority health promotion is more likely to be derived from interventions rooted in culturally and historically grounded contextual factors. In this essay, we highlight limitations of comparative approaches to minority health research and argue that integrating emic (or within-group) approaches may facilitate research and interventions more consonant with national goals to promote health and reduce disparities than comparative approaches.