Researching health and wellness among minority communities

Health disparities among communities in the United States exist. Social vulnerabilities put minorities at disproportionate risk of all sorts of chronic diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and obesity.

How can we understand what is going on in our communities and efforts to mitigate the effects of poor air/water quality, an absence of affordable fresh fruits and vegetables, and even the lower education levels that can exacerbate health disparities? Using our information literacy skills, let’s identify some quality resources so we can understand the current situation and how it can be improved.

Resources from the federal government

The U.S. government has a wealth of data and information that can be mined to uncover ways in which people’s health can be improved. If you’re curious about the government’s objectives for health data collection in the current decade, you’ll find that at

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Minority Health subsite features an e-newsletter, Health Equity Matters, a blog (Conversations in Equity), and various health disparities/strategies reports. State and local programs using “culturally tailored interventions to address preventable risk behaviors” are funded by Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) funds.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) publishes reports and statistical briefs on racial/ethnic minorities, as well as children/adolescents, the elderly, low-income, rural/inner-city residents, and women. A good starting point for your research might be the Minority Health fact sheets.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) website contains health profiles of American Indian and Alaskan Natives, Asian Americans, Black/African Americans, Hispanic/Latino, and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders. The OMH Resource Center’s collection of books, documents, reports, journal articles, and media is searchable via the online catalog. Consumer health materials are available in more than 40 languages. If you want to find national or regional organizations providing health information to minority communities, use the Advanced Search option (format=organization).

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities examines factors contributing to health disparities among underserved populations, including racial and ethnic minorities. Also look at the resources targeted for each of the populations mentioned above in MedlinePlus.

State and local governments

Some federal agency studies present minority health data at the state or local level. There are organizations of state and local authorities concerned with health disparities as well. For example:

  • The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) tracks health disparity regulation.
  • The National Association of County Health Officials (NACCHO) has a program that supports efforts to confront the causes of unequal distribution of disease and health resources, Health Equity and Social Justice. Its six-module Roots of Health Inequity course is open to individuals and groups.

Not-for-profit organizations conducting research

Several health organizations fund research through partnerships with not-for-profits or universities. “Healthy Communities” is the focus of research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWF). For example, RWF funds the Advancing Health Equity initiative at the University of Chicago.

Minority Health Journals

Some publications dedicated to minority health issues are available through NOVA Libraries’ online databases, such as EBSCO Academic Search, while others can be accessed via the web. In addition, several titles that remain behind publisher firewalls have open access versions allowing the public to read articles covering minority health on their site, or via PubMed. Here’s a list of a few open access publications:

American Journal of Public Health 

Ethnicity & Disease 

Ethnicity & Health

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 

SSM (Social Science & Medicine) Population Health 

Journal of health, population and nutrition 



Check out the databases on trial in the library and let us know whether we should subscribe!

When conducting research before writing an essay or term paper, you may begin at our A-Z list of all databases available through the NOVA libraries. Scroll down and look at the right-hand side of the page to see the databases that we’re considering as future purchases. Try them out and let us know what you think!

magazine icon


We had to limit access to our current magazine shelves during the pandemic. In the past, students would browse the shelves and flip through current issues of all sorts of titles, ranging from Bloomberg Businessweek to Vogue. On trial now is EBSCO’s digital newsstand, Flipster, where you can read the latest issues of digital magazines that would be behind a firewall if you tried to access them through their individual title or publishers’ websites. Browse any of the 19 categories, from Art & Design to Travel.

Magazines are an excellent way for students to read news stories with a bit more context. The articles encountered might give you a clue as to an interesting topic for your next writing assignment. However, you can find all sorts of titles in this database, from Bon Appetit to Motor Trend, Popular Mechanics to Vanity Fair.

Films Video


The NOVA libraries subscribe to several video collections:

Academic Video Online

American History in Video

Docuseek Streaming Video

ICE Video Library

Kanopy Videos

PBS Videos Online

Sage Streaming Video

Swank Digital Campus

You may already be familiar with the educational videos available in the Films on Demand database. On trial now is Films on Demand – Feature Films for Education. Instructors may choose to assign a title for their students to watch from genres such as Biography, Drama, and Literary Adaptation. However, there’s no reason why you couldn’t look for your favorite Action or Adventure film. If you’ve got children or younger siblings, explore the Animated films in this database. And that’s just the first letter of the alphabet!

Digital Theatre Plus can supplement the teaching of Shakespeare, but you may be inclined to explore the Broadway Digital Archive that is part of this collection.



Those studying horticulture will know of the library’s horticulture research guide. We’re now evaluating a new Gale Gardening and Horticulture database. The look-and-feel of the interface should be familiar to anyone who’s used other Gale databases in our collection, such as Opposing Viewpoints. Let us know if you think that this Gardening & Horticulture database would be of value for your studies!

Tell us what you think!