Work Together to Advance Health Equity
Everyone in the United States should have a fair chance to lead the healthiest life possible.
Where we live should not determine our health, the health of our children, or how long we live, and yet, it is predictive. As you work to improve health in your community, be sure to focus efforts and priorities on those who are experiencing conditions that limit their opportunity to be healthy. This doesn’t mean offering everyone the same resources. Instead, it’s about creating conditions that will ensure all can realize the same health outcomes.
Use your 2018 County Health Rankings State Health Reports to raise awareness about persistent gaps in opportunity by place and race. Building on our efforts to call attention to the many factors that influence health, these reports highlight data on social and economic disparities based on place and on race and ethnicity, in addition to providing evidence-informed strategies and examples of communities taking action to address equity.
These reports illustrate:
- What health equity is and why it matters.
- Differences in health outcomes within states by place and racial/ethnic groups.
- Differences in health factors within states by place and racial/ethnic groups.
- What communities can do to create opportunity and health for all.
Using the What Works for Health strategies listed in your Report as a starting point, work with your state and local leaders to choose policies and programs that have been effective for improving health in other places and that are a good fit for your state.
- If there are examples of effective and sustainable ways your community is addressing health gaps, publicize those stories so that others in your state are inspired to take similar action. By focusing on policy, systems, and environmental changes – or implementing programs in a broad, systematic way – communities across your state will see the most substantial improvements over time.
- As a way to begin talking about health gaps in your community, use the Health Gaps Report Discussion Guide to introduce conversations with diverse stakeholders. We introduced this discussion guide in 2015 with our original state health gaps reports. The guide continues to offer important considerations and tips on how to bring together diverse stakeholders to continue a conversation on health gaps, and how to create a safe space for dialogue.
- To further shine a light on gaps at the local level, refer to the Digging Deeper section of the Use the Data tool to identify sources of data beyond those provided in your county-level snapshot. Find out what types of sub-county and/or demographic data are available for your state in the Finding More Data section of this tool. (Find Use the Data on the Explore Health Rankings page, accessible from the orange navigation bar.) Work with community leaders and members to help share individual stories that bring these data to life.
Addressing health gaps effectively requires the early and continued involvement and empowerment of community members who are most affected by poor health outcomes. Community leaders and residents bring important contributions including knowledge of the community, key contacts and resources, potential partners, existing assets, and potential barriers. Ensure that everyone—especially those disproportionately affected —has a say in identifying and prioritizing health needs and that they have support for working collectively to address these needs and barriers.
The process of establishing relationships and building trust within a community can take several years. If you do not already have relationships with a community, meet with leaders in the community to respectfully seek their advice and offer your support as an ally. Use Building a Contact List to identify people you already know who can introduce you to key leaders in the community. Work with these leaders to build an agenda for better health that meets the needs of the community.