Health inequities are a result of systemic and unequal distribution of the social, economic, and environmental conditions necessary for good health. Inequities, found in almost all aspects of the health care system, lead to health disparities - differences in health status between groups of people. While research identifies the health care delivery system as one causal factor, there is also recognition that disparities arise from complex interactions among biological, social, cultural, economic, environmental, and behavioral factors - or social determinants of health.

Fortunately, health care systems and the areas in which people “live, learn, work, and play” also serve as significant levers for change. Approaches to eliminating health disparities are improving as a result of identifying innovative strategies, using new data sources and measures, supporting and disseminating research, and continuing cross-agency federal collaboration. The complexity and persistence of health disparities requires an approach grounded in public and political will for change, combined with crosssystem collaboration.

Altarum Institute has an extensive and longstanding commitment to eliminating health disparities. We understand that we cannot narrowly define the solutions, but that instead health equity will only be achieved through an ability to combine expertise and understanding using four key elements:

The Population: Who is experiencing the health inequities?
Altarum works extensively with populations with the greatest needs and facing the biggest inequities. Examples include conducting focus groups with migrant farm workers, leadership development with LGBT organizations, creating culturally appropriate health education with American Indians, and building the capacity of CBOs serving substance–abusing urban African Americans. In each of these examples we work hand-in-hand with community members to achieve better health.

The Social Determinants: How does poverty, culture and the environment impact health?
Altarum understands that a host of inter-related factors impact a person’s health and well-being. We work with housing authorities, WIC agencies, park departments and others to improve the underlying factors that influence health.

The Health Issue: How do these inequities manifest in health outcomes?
From adolescent physical activity to viral hepatitis, Altarum has experts who have dedicated their careers to prevent and treat the diseases and health outcomes with the greatest health inequities.

Policy Programs and Systems Change: What should be done?
From strategic planning to implementation, Altarum is at the forefront of developing, implementing supporting and evaluating the policies and programs that are the most effective in eliminating disparities.

Policy Programs and Systems Change Infographic

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