Health Equity & Diversity
What is health equity?
- Health equity: Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. This requires removing obstacles to health such as poverty, discrimination and their consequences, including powerlessness and lack of access to good jobs with fair pay; quality education and housing; safe environments; and healthcare.
- For the purposes of measurement, health equity means reducing and ultimately eliminating disparities in health and its determinants that adversely affect excluded or marginalized groups.
- Health equity is the ethical and human rights principle motivating efforts to eliminate health disparities; health disparities are the metric for assessing progress toward health equity (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).
- Health inequity: Health inequity refers to the uneven distribution of social and economic resources that impact an individual’s health. Inequities often stem from structural racism or the historical disenfranchisement and discrimination of particular groups, including racial and ethnic groups, individuals with lower incomes and members of the LGBTQ community. These groups and many others have been and continue to be withheld from obtaining resources that are needed to be healthy, and are disproportionately exposed to a combination of health risks such as poverty, violence and environmental health hazards. Inequities in health often result in disparities in health outcomes between populations (Adapted from American Public Health Association report Creating the Healthiest Nation: Advancing Health Equity).
- For example: Access to community/health resources such as limited public transportation routes as a result of redlining in the greater Seattle area.
What is health disparity?
- Health disparity: A health disparity exists when an outcome is seen to a greater or lesser extent between populations. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion (healthypeople.gov). Disparities in health and in the key determinants of health are the metric for assessing progress toward health equity (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). For example: Higher rate of missed appointments for Black and African American patients.
- Health disparity and health inequality are synonyms; disparity is used more often in the United States, while other countries use inequality.
- Health disparities/inequalities are how we measure progress toward health equity. Health equity is the underlying principle that motivates action to eliminate health disparities/inequalities (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).