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Invited Critique
January 2013

Pushing the Envelope of Disparity Research to Find Modifiable Factors: Comment on “Residential Segregation and Lung Cancer Mortality in the United States”

JAMA Surg. 2013;148(1):42-43. doi:10.1001/jamasurgery.2013.405

Racial disparity in patient outcomes has been described extensively in the literature. One may wonder, then, what is novel about the study on lung cancer disparity in the United States by Hayanga et al.1

Traditionally, clinical research has focused on patient factors, such as age, sex, comorbidities, and cancer staging. The fundamental problem with focusing on patient factors is that they are impossible to change. Herein lies the futility that many feel about disparity research. If poor outcomes are associated with certain ethnoracial groups, what can we do about it? We can't possibly change someone's race!