Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a minority group?

The term minority group is often used to describe racial, ethnic, and underserved populations or communities.

The U.S. President's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued these federal categories* for race and ethnicity:

Five racial groups:

  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Asian
  • Black or African-American
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • White, and

One ethnic group:

  • Hispanic or Latino.

*These categories are used for more than data on a population's demographic characteristics. They also monitor civil rights enforcement and program implementation.

According to 2010 Census data, 59% of New York State's population is comprised of white, non-Hispanic individuals. The remaining 41% are considered racial and ethnic minorities.

What are health disparities?

There are many definitions of health disparities. Healthy People 2020 defines a health disparity as: "a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion."

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Health disparities can result from multiple social determinants of health.

What are social determinants of health?

The social determinants of health are the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age, as well as the systems put in place to deal with illness (World Health Organization, 2012). Social determinants of health include: poverty; environmental threats; inadequate access to health care; individual and behavioral factors; and low educational attainment and poor quality education. Social determinants of health are influenced by a wider set of forces: systemic racism, economics, social policies, and politics.

What is cultural and linguistic competence?

Cultural and linguistic competency is the ability of organizations and practitioners to recognize an individual's cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, traditions, language practices, and health practices and apply this knowledge to influence positive health outcomes.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, cultural and linguistic competence is:

"… a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross–cultural situations."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health developed 15 national standards (CLAS - Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services) for assuring cultural and linguistic competence in health care.

What is health literacy?

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

How does Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention define a community?

A community is a group of people who share similar:

  • Sociological Characteristics: Socioeconomical and demographic information, health status and risk profiles, cultural and ethnic characteristics.

  • Social Ties: Values, interests, motivating forces, communication patterns, information networks, support systems, and power and stakeholder relationships.

  • Meaningful Geographic Boundaries: Blocks, groups of blocks, census tracts, minor civil divisions, etc.

  • Environmental Conditions: Physical, social, and economic conditions that affect access to a safe place to live, acceptable housing, healthy and affordable food, quality health services, education, skills training, jobs, transportation, and other determinants of health and well-being.

What is the MRT?

The Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) was established by Governor Cuomo to bring together stakeholders and experts from across the State. It is made up of 10 workgroups. The team's task is to cooperatively reform the system and reduce costs. OHDP is working to implement the recommendations of the MRT Health Disparities Workgroup. This workgroup supports increasing access to health care services, identifying where health disparities occur, and reducing disparities.

How can I get more information about the work of the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention?

The Office provides a quarterly eNewsletter with information relating to health observances, funding opportunities, announcements, late breaking medical studies, events, and resources for health disparities prevention. It is distributed quarterly – Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, to our listserv subscribers, which include DOH employees, healthcare professionals, advocates, elected officials, other state OMH offices, the public, and other non-traditional stakeholders and collaborators.

Please contact us at to subscribe to the eNewsletter. Please include ‘subscribe’ in the subject line when sending the initial e-mail request.

How do I contact OMH-HDP?

Click here to find contact information for the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Prevention, including how to subscribe to the eNewsletter.