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Advancing health equity by integrating intersectionality into epidemiological research: applications and challenges
  1. Jennifer Mandelbaum1
  1. Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jennifer Mandelbaum, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health University of South Carolina, 915 Greene Street, Office 531, Columbia, SC, USA, 29208; mandelbj{at}

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Epidemiological research increasingly recognises that health disparities are driven by complex interplay among factors including housing, education and employment.1 Intersectionality—‘the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relations and subject formations’—offers a theoretical approach for expanding our understanding of health disparities beyond independent systems of privilege and oppression (eg, racism and sexism).2 Intersectionality theory was developed more than 30 years ago to better understand how various identities interact and produce cumulative impacts across the life course. Still, traditional public health approaches of examining a single exposure and health outcome continue to limit our understanding of how health disparities are experienced across varying classes, races, ethnicities, genders and sexualities.3 Intersectionality theory in health research is often relegated to social science literature, highlighting a missed opportunity for epidemiological research to consider how larger structural inequities shape health.

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  • Contributors This article was written entirely by the primary author.

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.