Skip to main content

Box 1: Terminology related to disadvantaged populations

From: Extending the PRISMA statement to equity-focused systematic reviews (PRISMA-E 2012): explanation and elaboration

To describe the populations who are experiencing inequitable differences we use the term ‘disadvantaged’ although we recognize that this term may not be acceptable to all. In a methodology review of equity assessment, disadvantage was defined in terms of the avoidability or preventability of health inequalities (12 of 34 studies) [11] by focusing on populations that have experienced health inequities (e.g., Aboriginal populations).
We have chosen to use the term “disadvantaged” for PRISMA-E 2012 because we felt that despite its limitations (e.g., that it may be considered a condescending or paternalistic term), the term “disadvantaged” more clearly defines a population that is experiencing or has experienced health inequities. Whereas vulnerability encompasses a combination of risk, exposure and resilience that do not always lead to health inequities, and other terms such as “marginalized” are too narrowly focused and do not encompass the breadth of settings, contexts and health inequities of interest.