Equity vs. Equality in Human Subjects Research

Disjointed pieces of a pie chart with text: Equity vs. Equality.

The meanings of “equity” and “equality” are similar, but not the same. The difference between equity and equality has important implications for justice in research.

To treat “equitably” means to treat fairly;
To treat “equally” means to treat in exactly the same way.

Research should strive for equitable distribution of the risks and potential benefits of the research. This means that investigators are treating the groups involved in the research fairly and justly. It does not necessarily mean that all groups are equally represented, but that their representation is fair and just based on the risks and potential benefits associated with the research.