Download this worksheet to track your progress and reflect on your own experience.
Once you understand the root causes of inequities in your community, you can begin to develop strategies to promote health and equity. But how do you move from understanding to action?
This guide focuses on identifying strategies to promote health and equity, so that a fair and just opportunity for good health can be a reality for everyone in your community.
Let’s start with a shared understanding of some of the terms we will use throughout this guide.
|Equality||The goal of equality is to promote fairness. But, fairness can only be achieved when we recognize that people are diverse with unique strengths and needs. We don’t all start at the same place, and we may have different barriers that need to be addressed in order to have equal access to good health.That’s where equity comes in.|
Equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to access what they need to thrive. This requires removing obstacles to good health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including: powerlessness and lack of access to well-paying jobs, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care (Braveman et al., 2017).
|Health Disparities||Health disparities are potentially concerning differences in health, particularly for groups at underlying or social disadvantage (e.g., race, ethnicity, or class). Disparities describe the problem or differences in health but not how those differences occurred (Braveman et al., 2017).|
|Health Inequities||A health inequity is a health disparity that is not only unfair but may also reflect injustice. To address health inequities, communities must remove obstacles to good health such as poverty, discrimination, and their consequences, including: powerlessness and lack of access to well-paying jobs, quality education and housing, safe environments, and health care (Braveman et al., 2017).|
Root Causes are the underlying reasons that create the differences seen in health outcomes. They are the conditions in a community that determine whether people have access to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive.
For example, the root cause of unequal allocation of power and resources creates uneven social, economic, and environmental conditions. Those conditions then lead to poorer health outcomes (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017).
Braveman P, Arkin E, Orleans T, Proctor D, and Plough A. What Is Health Equity? And What Difference Does a Definition Make? Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2017.\
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on Community-Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States; Baciu A, Negussie Y, Geller A, et al., editors. Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jan 11. 3, The Root Causes of Health Inequity. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425845/