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Highlighted Topics-Public Health

common topics studied by CPH students, based on Twenty Minute Topic session held in October 2020 with added topics

Health Disparities

What do you mean by disparities, be specific.

Are you interested in mortality? healthcare, access to healthcare, etc. Is there a particular group that you are interested in? a location?

Another thing to consider is for a topic like maternal health, and more specifically maternal and/or infant mortality often addresses disparities, general reports and articles may include valuable information.

I like to look at the Medical Subject Headings associated with Medline/PubMed, which can help focus your purpose more:

Health Status Disparities-Variation in rates of disease occurrence and disabilities between population groups defined by socioeconomic characteristics such as age, ethnicity, economic resources, or gender and populations identified geographically or similar measures.

Healthcare Disparities-Differences in access to or availability of medical facilities and services.

When looking for information on disparities related to maternal and child health, there may be organizations/groups/associations that focus on that specifically. Google searches work well to find these but also be critical of sites you don't know. Read about who they are and what their purpose is. 

Article Sources

When looking for articles always consider who would be writing on your topic. What kind of publications? What would an authors expertise be? What databases cover your topic and include those publications?

Once you have found articles, if it is older, look to see if anyone else has cited the article. Web of Science is a great database to use for this.

Also, use the find similar articles option.

PubMed is always a good place to start. The strength of the indexing and use of Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) makes it easier to understand your search results and make adjustments as needed. 

I used the terms maternal health disparities and selected this article to look at further

Exploring the social determinants of racial/ethnic disparities in prenatal care utilization and maternal outcome. I then took a look at the subject headings that were assigned to this article. 

maternal health/ethnology which yields 33 results 

I decided to focus on a specific area: premature birth and african american

I used these search terms: african american AND premature birth AND disparity

here is a selected result: Black-White Disparities in Preterm Birth: Geographic, Social, and Health Determinants

CINAHL- I decided to look at CINAHL for other possible publications. I used the same terms I did in PubMed.

here is a selected result: Pregnant African American Women's Perception of Neighborhood, Racial Discrimination, and Psychological Distress as Influences on Birth Outcomes.

Social Science Database: I did the same as above and selected these two articles to share.

Ethnic Density Effects on Birth Outcomes and Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy in the US Linked Birth and Infant Death Data Set

I can use the subject filters on the left side of results to focus the results such as choosing "preterm birth". This makes sure that my results will cover that topic specifically.

I tried maternal mortality AND disparity, limited results to Scholarly journals and United States (although this doesn't always eliminate other countries) and selected this one from the results.

Overview of US Maternal Mortality Policy

--PubMed search results for maternal mortality AND healthcare disparities. 389 results on 10/6/20 - no filters applied

Background Sources

This section is labeled as background but know that most organizations, if focused on disparities, will also have data and sometimes even publications covering the range of needs on this topic. 

You can start by looking at health disparities reports that include maternal health or look at reports/sites on maternal health that will include disparities. At times the specific population group you are interested in will have their own sites on health that will include disparity information.

Below are some examples:


Maternal Health


The CDC gets it's own box because it includes a variety of departments and types of content. Links to CDC sources can come from other places, such as databases or Google searches.