Health Equity Terminology

Health disparity: A population-based difference in health outcomes (e.g., women have more breast cancer than men).

Health inequity: A health disparity based in inequitable, socially-determined circumstances (for example, American Indians have higher rates of diabetes due to the disruption of their way of life and replacement of traditional foods with unhealthy commodity foods). Because health inequities are socially-determined, change is possible.

Health equity: When every person has the opportunity to realize their health potential — the highest level of health possible for that person — without limits imposed by structural inequities. Health equity means achieving the conditions in which all people have the opportunity to attain their highest possible level of health.

Structural inequities: Structures or systems of society — such as finance, housing, transportation, education, social opportunities, etc. — that are structured in such a way that they benefit one population unfairly (whether intended or not).

Structural racism: The normalization of an array of dynamics — historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal — that routinely advantage white people while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color and American Indians.

Determinants of health: Health is determined through the interaction of individual behaviors and social, economic, genetic and environmental factors. Health is also determined by the systems, policies, and processes encountered in everyday life. Examples of determinants of health include job opportunities, wages, transportation options, the quality of housing and neighborhoods, the food supply, access to health care, the quality of public schools and opportunities for higher education, racism and discrimination, civic engagement, and the availability of networks of social support.

Health equity analysis: Analyzing health inequities requires a process that uses data to identify health differences between population groups, instead of only examining the population as a whole. The process then continues by identifying and examining the causes of these population differences in health. 


Questions? Contact

Center for Health Statistics
Minnesota Department of Health
Golden Rule Building, 3rd Floor
85 East Seventh Place
PO Box 64882
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A. 55164-0882

Updated Thursday, March 10, 2016 at 04:25PM