Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Grounded Theory Research

Publication Title

The Qualitative Report

Publication Date


Document Type



disparities, health care, racial, grounded theory, minorities, race and racism


Medicine and Health Sciences | Nursing


National initiatives in the United States call for health research that addresses racial/ethnic disparities. Although grounded theory (GT) research has the potential to contribute much to the understanding of the health experiences of people of color, the extent to which it has contributed to health disparities research is unclear. In this article we describe a project in which we reviewed 44 GT studies published in Qualitative Health Research within the last five years. Using a framework proposed by Green, Creswell, Shope, and Clark (2007), we categorized the studies at one of four levels based on the status and significance afforded racial/ethnic diversity. Our results indicate that racial/ethnic diversity played a primary role in five studies, a complementary role in one study, a peripheral role in five studies, and an absent role in 33 studies. We suggest that GT research could contribute more to health disparities research if techniques were developed to better analyze the influence of race/ethnicity on health-related phenomena.