Working Together to Build Healthier Communities
What is health disparities?
Health disparities refer to the inequities that exist among various segments of the population that put them at greater risk for physical and mental health problems, or reductions in the quality of their daily lives. Health disparities result in premature illness, poor quality of life, a lack of access to high quality health care, and shortened life expectancies.
Healthy People 2020, the initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines health disparity as “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage."
Health disparities often disproportionately impacts populations who have systematically experienced barriers to optimal health based on their:
- Socioeconomic status
- Sexual orientation and gender identity
- Mental health status
- Geographic location
Find out about the upcoming Healthy People 2030 framework here.
How do we achieve health equity?
Long-term solutions create social, political, and economic conditions that promote health equity:
- Public health policy and law contribute to health equity. Political and legal solutions allow access to high quality and longer lives.
- Communities contribute to the health status of residents. Community members need access to physical and social infrastructure that promotes healthy behavior.
- Individual behaviors contribute to health outcomes. People need access to skills, knowledge, and quality of life to make healthy choices.
Statement from the Center for Health Equity
The Center for Health Equity stands in solidarity with our Black community, students, staff, colleagues, and supports #BlackLivesMatter. As a center, which aims to address health disparities that exist in our society, it is our responsibility to take a clear stand in our actions to address disparities faced by marginalized groups.
This past academic year, two of our Black faculty members and their scholarship were featured on our website. Two of our alumni, who are from underrepresented groups, were also featured for their work on health disparities and service to community. We acknowledge, however, that is not enough, and we believe that all actors of our community have the power to promote equity.
As such, following are some of the action steps that the Center for Health Equity aims to continue to take in order to achieve such a goal. We look forward to an open dialogue with members of the campus community in achieving such steps:
- Implement an intentional recruitment strategy of diverse scholars to the Center who actively focus their research on social justice.
- Promote of scholarship that address the intersectionality of race, ethnicity, sexual/gender minority status, religion, disability, etc., thus highlighting the complex experiences of marginalized groups.
- Establish of a Center for Health Equity YouTube channel and newsletter to invite key leaders and advocates of inclusion.
- Support mentorship of underrepresented student scholars with research focused on health disparities and social justice.
- Actively involve community perspectives in the research questions asked and how they are approached.
- Widely disseminate our research to the community in order to generate ongoing dialogue and action.
- Seek funding support to promote above-mentioned initiatives.
- Establish an external advisory board to provide perspective and accountability of implicit biases in our actions and decisions.