Congressional Briefing - March 18, 2008

Healthy Passages: Racial/Ethnic Disparities in the Health Behaviors and Experiences of 5th Graders

Presented by the RAND Corporation along with Honorary Co-Host Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Globe - Asia


Dr. Marc N. Elliott and Dr. Mark A. Schuster


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


1:00 pm - 2:00 pm


304 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

About the Program

Racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes have been long documented for adults and adolescents. In contrast, relatively little is known about health disparities among elementary-aged children. Have problems even begun before adolescence? If so, what disparities exist?

To fill this gap in knowledge, RAND has been collaborating with several universities in conducting Healthy Passages, a long-term study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that examines the racial and ethnic disparities in the health behaviors and experiences of children starting in 5th grade. Researchers studied Black, Hispanic, and White children from 118 public schools in three different cities: Birmingham, AL; Houston, TX; and Los Angeles, CA.

The data from Healthy Passages are the first of their kind and the first to show a breadth of health disparities beginning as young as the 5th grade. Researchers Dr. Marc Elliott and Dr. Mark Schuster will present the first set of findings from the Healthy Passages study, including:

  • Early findings of significant racial and ethnic disparities in the 5th grade, even after controlling for factors such as income;
  • Black 5th graders tend to fare the worst on most indicators, with Hispanic children faring somewhat better but still worse than White 5th graders; and
  • Efforts are needed to address these early disparities to prevent similar or greater disparities in later life.

About the Speakers

Dr. Marc N. Elliott

Marc N. Elliott, PhD, is a Senior Statistician in RAND Health. His work focuses on consumer experiences with healthcare, profiling of healthcare institutions, racial/ethnic disparities in health, Medicare, vulnerable populations, pediatrics, mental health, and media effects on health behavior. Elliott leads the analysis of Medicare beneficiary experience surveys and a project for the Office of Minority Health developing methods for more precise national health estimates for small racial/ethnic subgroups. He has published more than 100 articles in a range of journals. Dr. Elliott received his BA. summa cum laude and his PhD from Rice University.

Dr. Mark A. Schuster

Mark A. Schuster, MD, PhD, conducts research primarily on child, adolescent and family health issues, much of it with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the CDC. He is currently studying family leave's effects on children, parents' role in raising healthy youth, and strategies to promote healthy eating and physical activity. Dr. Schuster is a Senior Natural Scientist at RAND and recently became Chief of General Pediatrics and Vice-Chair for Health Policy Research at Children's Hospital Boston/Harvard Medical School. Dr. Schuster received his BA summa cum laude from Yale, his MD from Harvard Medical School, his MPP from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and his PhD from RAND Graduate School.

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Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact the Office of Congressional Relations at or call (703) 413-1100 x5395.