Achieving Health Equity
Why health equity matters and what you can do to help give everyone a fair shot at being as healthy as they can be.
Why Equity Matters
Across the nation, gaps in health are large, persistent and increasing—many of them caused by barriers set up at all levels of our society. After all, it's hard to be healthy without access to good jobs and schools and, safe, affordable homes. Health equity means increasing opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible, nomatter who we are, where we live, or how much money we make.
The Interplay Between Culture and Heath
This video series explores how cultural filters shape the way each of us understands and pursues health and wellbeing, from our perceptions of health to where patients seek help and the types of treatment patients prefer.
Series//Cultures and Health
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Featured Health Equity Resources
Defining Health Equity
Communities in Action
Your Address & Your Lifespan
Promote Health Equity
Communicating About Health Equity
Advocate for policies that advance equity by better understanding the different groups you need to reach and how they think about health.
Explore the Evidence
Health is about much more than genetics and medical care. Research has shown that the conditions we face as we live, learn, work and play—what researchers call the social determinants of health—also have a lot to do with how healthy we are.
How does inequity play out in America today? Through:
There is evidence that underserved populations are located at a greater physical distance from services in rural communities.
Research suggests that racism, spanning systems from medical care to housing and hiring to the criminal justice system, adversely affects health in multiple ways.
Policy changes that respond to the specific needs of each community are essential to promoting inclusive and connected neighborhoods, reducing displacement, and enabling opportunity.
Wealth & Income
Parents’ wealth shapes their children’s educational, economic and social opportunities, which in turn shape their children’s health throughout life.
Health Equity: What We Can Learn From the World
Three RWJF-supported reports offer important insights, lessons, and solutions that we can adapt and learn from to advance health equity in the United States.
Related News and Insights
Read expert perspectives and the latest research from RWJF to explore the opportunities and complexities of this topic.
How Newark Harnessed the Power of Partnerships During the Pandemic
How We’re Investing to Advance Racial Equity
Lessons From the Intersection of Race, Inequality, and Health
Health Equity in Action
Health equity is crucial to a vibrant nation. Unfortunately, many areas have experienced generations of isolation from opportunity. Policies and practices at every level have created deep-rooted barriers to good health. Because of this, far too many start behind and stay behind.
At the same time, communities are increasingly recognizing that when everyone has the opportunity to live their healthiest lives, we are all better off. They are thinking in new ways about the many systems that influence health, from education and housing to transportation and public safety. And from parents and educators to health providers and business leaders, they are coming together around a common goal of better health for everyone.
What You Can Do to Take Action for Health Equity
From small steps you can take right now to larger policy changes you can help support.
If you ...
- Guarantee access to high-quality early childhood education (pg. 45).
- Support disciplinary policies that minimize expulsions, as experts and policymakers recommend.
- Ensure that funding policies provide adequate resources to schools serving higher-need students.
- Learn about implicit bias in education and how to fight it.
- Support school-based health centers.
- Teach financial literacy early.
- Promote opportunities to keep high-risk kids in school and help them graduate.
- Support LGBTQ needs in schools.
- Ban the box from your job application.
- Support paid family leave.
- Promote healthy behaviors among your employees.
- Offer training on implicit bias.
- Commit to improve the hiring and retention of workers with disabilities.
- Promote and support paid family leave.
- Push your state to expand Medicaid if it has not already.
- Make sure your local government has banned the box from job applications.
- Ensure that non-English speakers can access social services.
- Increase minimum wages above the federal level.
- Take the Advance Health Equity Challenge in your state.
- Use racial equity impact assessments in your work.
- Understand the role of social determinants on health, and use these tips for covering them.
- Understand the difference between health disparities and health equity.
- When in doubt, consult experts on health equity.
- Apply an equity lens to news as you’re reporting it: Whom does this benefit? Does this impact vulnerable groups?
- Increase officer training and mental health services.
- Promote individual sentencing decisions, and reject mandatory minimums.
- Treat nonviolent offenses as civil violations instead of criminal ones.
- Have clear, fair search and seizure rules for LGBT populations.
- Learn about how development decisions can add to isolation and poverty.
- Build the capacity of community development institutions.
- Use the social impact calculator in your planning.
- Learn from the winners of initiatives like SPARCC, Invest Health, and the Culture of Health Prize.
- Include community members in decision-making.
- Ensure safe walking, bicycling and public transit options for all.
- Support zoning regulations that encourage high-density, inclusionary, transit-oriented development.
- Learn about how structural barriers produced segregated neighborhoods.
What Everyone Can Do
- Know your rights.
- Start a conversation about equity and disparities in health.
- Watch the “Unnatural Causes” series to learn how inequality hurts health.
- Mobilize your community with guidance on change efforts.
- Ask an expert for help if you don’t know where to start.
- Become a Culture of Health leader.