A Review of Equity Issues in quantitative studies on health inequalities: the Case of Asthma in Adults.


The term 'inequities' refers to avoidable differences rooted in injustice. This review examined whether or not, and how, quantitative studies identifying inequalities in risk factors and health service utilization for asthma explicitly addressed underlying inequities. Asthma was chosen because recent decades have seen strong increases in asthma prevalence in many international settings, and inequalities in risk factors and related outcomes.


A review was conducted of studies that identified social inequalities in asthma-related outcomes or health service use in adult populations. Data were extracted on use of equity terms (objective evidence), and discussion of equity issues without using the exact terms (subjective evidence).


Of the 219 unique articles retrieved, 21 were eligible for inclusion. None used the terms equity/inequity. While all but one article traced at least partial pathways to inequity, only 52% proposed any intervention and 55% of these interventions focused exclusively on the more proximal, clinical level.


Without more in-depth and systematic examination of inequities underlying asthma prevalence, quantitative studies may fail to provide the evidence required to inform equity-oriented interventions to address underlying circumstances restricting opportunities for health.


Greenwood, H. L., Edwards, N., Hoogbruin, A., Kahwa, E. K., Odhiambo, O. N., & Buong, J. A.

Publication Year: 
BMC medical research methodology, 11(1), 104