Skip to main content

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in research: an introduction

This information provides a brief introduction to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in research and why it is important.


Large group of diverse people waving pictured from above
Involving diverse groups of people in health and social care research.

What do Equality, Diversity and Inclusion mean?

The NIHR (National Institute for Health and Social Care Research) define Equality, Diversity and Inclusion as:


Ensuring that everyone is given equal access to resources and opportunities to utilise their skills and talents. Taking a systems approach to what we do and how we do it and identifying and removing long standing, structural barriers to success.


Being reflective of the wider community. Having a diverse community, with people from a broad range of backgrounds represented in all areas and at all levels.


An approach where groups or individuals with different backgrounds are welcomed, culturally and socially accepted, and treated equally. Engaging with each person as an individual. A sense of belonging that is respectful of people for who they are.

Why is embedding EDI in health and social care research important?

The health and social care needs of specific groups or individuals are not met when they are not involved in health and social care research. This contributes to these specific groups or individuals having significantly worse health outcomes and experiences, when compared to others. These differences are known as health inequalities.

Health inequalities can involve differences in:

  • health status, for example, life expectancy
  • access to care, for example, availability of given services
  • quality and experience of care, for example, levels of patient satisfaction
  • behavioural risks to health, for example, smoking rates
  • wider determinants of health, for example, quality of housing.

Differences in health status and the things that determine it can be experienced by people grouped by a range of factors. In England, health inequalities are often analysed across four types of factors:

  1. socio-economic factors, for example, income
  2. geography, for example, region or whether urban or rural
  3. socially excluded groups, for example, people experiencing homelessness
  4. specific characteristics including those protected in law (Equality Act 2010) these are:
    • age
    • disability
    • gender reassignment
    • marriage or civil partnership
    • pregnancy and maternity
    • race
    • religion or belief
    • sex
    • sexual orientation

To find more about each protected characteristic, read the University's guide.

To address health inequalities, researchers need to be aware of specific groups or individuals who are underserved and underrepresented in research, this will enable them to align their research questions and research design to ensure their research benefits those with the greatest need. This can be achieved through involving specific groups or individuals in the whole research journey – from conception and design; to recruitment and dissemination.

How will this resource help?

This resource will help researchers to understand the importance of EDI, and support them with embedding EDI in every stage of their health and social care research project.

On this page