Measuring Health Disparities

Measuring Health Disparities Course
Course No.
No Charge

Certificate of Completion and CHES available (see below for further information)

John W. Lynch

John W. Lynch, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.Ed.

Dr. John Lynch is an epidemiologist currently working at McGill University, Department of  Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health.  His major research focus is in the area of social inequalities in health.

More about John W. Lynch...
Sam Harper

Sam Harper, Ph.D.

Sam Harper earned his PhD in epidemiology at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health and worked as researcher at the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health.  He obtained a master's degree in epidemiology at the University of South Carolina in 1999 and studied health inequalities as a CDC Fellow at the National Center for Health Statistics from 1999-2000.  His research interests include conceptual and methodological issues in health inequalities, population health and demography, and public health ethics.

More about Sam Harper...

Course Details

Who Would Benefit from this Course

The course is designed to be accessible to a broad audience of practitioners across all sectors of the public health and related workforce who are concerned about the issue of health disparity. Parts III and IV are more technical; although not required, it is helpful to have a background in statistics, epidemiology, or other related sciences for ease of understanding these sections.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the first content section (which includes Part I What are Health Disparities? and Part II Issues in Measuring Health Disparities), you will be able to:

  • Identify the dimensions of health disparity as described in Healthy People 2010
  • List three definitions of health disparity
  • Interpret health disparity in graphical representations of data
  • Explain relative and absolute disparity
  • Describe how reference groups can affect disparity measurement

By the end of the second content section (which includes Part III Measures of Health Disparities and Part IV Analytic Steps in Measuring Health Disparity), you will be able to:

  • Describe at least three complex measures of health disparities
  • List strengths and weaknesses of at least three health disparity measures
  • Summarize the analytic steps in measuring health disparity

Course Methodology

This course, while self-paced, can be expected to take between two to three hours to complete. The various health disparity measures are explained with interactive slides and audio commentary. Real-world examples illustrate concepts and carefully thought-out exercises help build knowledge.

Continuing Education Credit and Completion Certificate

For continuing education credit or completion certificate, you may complete the entire course or the first two parts (Parts I & II). Certificates are awarded upon submission of an evaluation and successful completion of the relevant tests. (There is a post-test covering Parts I & II and another covering Parts III & IV.) The computer-based course contains a link to the evaluation and post-tests, which are online.

Parts I & II provide 1.0 Contact hours for CHES; the entire course (Parts I-IV) provides 3.0 Contact hours for CHES. Additional information about continuing education provisions is available on the Career Advancement page of the Michigan Public Health Training Center (MPHTC) website.

Nursing contact hours are no longer offered for this training, effective January 1, 2016.

Planning committee: John Lynch, PhD, MPH, Sam Harper, PhD, MSPH, Julie McCallum, BSN, MPH, Amy Sarigiannis, MPH.


This course has been classified as "knowledgeable" by the criteria of the Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice, based on depth of material covered and length of course.


Your credit or completion certificate is manually processed and you will be notified via email when it has been posted to your Training Gateway account here. Please allow two to four weeks.


Information about scholarships, fees and refunds, cancellations, registration deadlines, certificates, ADA accommodations, and our grievance policy and procedures can be found under Help in the Frequently Asked Questions section.


This course has been made possible through funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Michigan Public Health Training Center, Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, and Prevention Research Center of Michigan.

Downloadable computer file (Windows Only)

As of 2016, this training is no longer compatible with current Mac software. It will only work on PC computers for which the user has administrator privileges to install the file.

Before you can download the course, you will need to register. Once registered, you will be able to immediately install it on your hard drive. The course is password-protected.

  • File size is 68.2 MB (Windows) and will take about five minutes to download with a high-speed bandwidth.
  • To obtain course password, click here. (There is a link to obtain the password, once you begin the computer-based course.)
  • Installation instructions. This computer-based course is Windows compatible.

Note: Some non-English installations of the Microsoft Windows operating system may not display the text on course screens properly, as the course uses the Arial font.


This interactive course focuses on some basic issues for public health practice -- how to understand, define and measure health disparity. This course examines the language of health disparity to come to some common understanding of what that term means, explains key measures of health disparity and shows how to calculate them. This computer-based course provides a durable tool that is useful to daily activities in the practice of public health.

The material is divided into four content sections. Parts I and II review what health disparities are, how they are defined, and provide an overview of common issues faced in measuring health disparities. Parts III and IV introduce users to a range of health disparity measures, providing advantages and disadvantages of each, and discuss how best to use different measures to communicate and evaluate health disparity in our communities.