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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Among Employees at Large Firms

Henke, Rachel Mosher PhD; Lopez-Gonzales, Lorena PhD; Wang, Degang PhD; Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Montes, Myrtho MD; Winick, Keith MA; Crighton, K. Andrew MD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 6 - p 627–634
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000460
Original Articles

Objectives: To determine whether race/ethnic disparities in the prevalence of chronic health conditions exist among an employed population.

Methods: We measured racial and ethnic differences in health across a national sample of workers in 46 large US businesses. We examined 15 chronic conditions for six ethnic/racial groups: African American, Hispanic, white, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, and Two or More Races. We identified the presence of each condition, using health care claims data. We report unadjusted and adjusted prevalence statistics for each race and ethnic group, controlling for confounding variables.

Results: Native Americans and African Americans had a significantly higher prevalence for almost half of the conditions studied compared to one or more other group.

Conclusions: Employers should be cautious when initiating programs that may unfairly discriminate against employee groups with inherent medical conditions associated with certain race and ethnic groups.

From Truven Health Analytics (Drs Henke, Lopez-Gonzales, Wang, and Goetzel), Cambridge, Mass; Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health–Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (Dr Goetzel), Bethesda, Md; and Prudential Financial (Dr Montes, Mr Winick, and Dr Crighton), Newark, NJ.

Address correspondences to: Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Consulting and Applied Research, Truven Health Analytics, 7700 Old Georgetown Road, Suite 650, Bethesda, MD 20814 (

Funding for this study was provided by Prudential Financial. No other conflicts of interest are declared.

Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine