What Are Disparities in Healthcare?

Disparities in healthcare are preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations.1

Factors Causing Disparities

Factors that cause these disparities include the following:1

  • Educational inequalities
  • Poverty
  • Individual and behavioral factors
  • Environmental threats
  • Inadequate access to healthcare
  • Systemic racism
  • Mistrust of the healthcare system


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Poorer Outcomes Among BIPOC Populations

This graph shows that Black people, Hispanic people, American Indian or Alaskan Native people, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders in the U.S. tend to fare worse in overall health care than white Americans.

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The IMF Strives for Health Equity

“Health equity is achieved when every person has the opportunity to ‘attain his or her full health potential’ and no one is ‘disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.’"1

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How Do Disparities in Myeloma Care Affect Specific Racial and Ethnic Groups? 

See the facts: 

These graphs show that African Americans and Hispanic Americans have a higher incidence of myeloma and higher mortality rates from the disease. In fact, mortality rates are about twice as high in Black people as in white people.3

Myeloma Incidence: By the Numbers


Average annual rate per 100,000, age adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population. Data sources: North American Association of Central Cancer Registries (NAACCR), 2021

Average annual rate per 100,000, age adjusted to the 2000 U.S. standard population. Data sources: National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021


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Take a second look

Why this matters

The above graph and corresponding data tables show that white patients receive autologous stem cell transplants and novel drug therapy treatments more often and sooner in the course of the disease. Delayed treatment and lack of access to appropriate treatment protocols result in poorer health outcomes for African Americans and Hispanics.4

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BIPOC and Access to Healthcare  

A 2023 study by Kaiser Family Foundation on Key Data on Health and Health Care by Race and Ethnicity discuss how “racial and ethnic disparities in health and healthcare remain a persistent challenge in the United States."

The COVID-19 pandemic has made inequities in health and healthcare for people of color more pronounced. However, “they have been documented for decades and reflect longstanding structural and systemic inequities rooted in racism and discrimination."

Social determinants of health also play a major role when it comes to inequities “across broader social and economic factors that drive health.” 

The analysis examines how people of color across “a broad range of measures of health, healthcare, and social determinants of health compared to whites. Data is presented for six groups, where necessary: White, Asian, Hispanic, African American, American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN), and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI).  

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Disparities in African Americans
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Disparities in Other Races and Ethnicities
Click to view footnotes

1.“Health Disparities.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 24, 2020. 

2. Hill, L., Artiga, S., and Halder, S. “Key Facts on Health and Health Care by Race and Ethnicity.” Kaiser Family Foundation, January 26, 2022. 

3. “Myeloma.” American Cancer Society, Cancer Statistics Center, 2018,!/cancer-site/Myeloma 

4. Ailawadhi, Sikander et al. “Racial disparities in treatment patterns and outcomes among patients with multiple myeloma: a SEER-Medicare analysis.” Blood Advances, October 17, 2019, 

With educational support from:

Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Karyopharm Therapeutics, Oncopeptides, Sanofi, Takeda Oncology and The Binding Site

The IMF's Diversity, Education, and Inclusion Policy

The IMF's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policy strives to recognize, include, and treat all members of the myeloma community equally. It also defines health disparities and takes a deeper dive into how these disparities affect specific racial and ethnic groups. The IMF believes that all patients deserve equal access to care and treatments.

The IMF is committed to ending disparities in myeloma.
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