Foundational practices for health equity: A learning and action tool for state health departments
Developed in Partnership with the Region V Social Determinants of Health Team of the Infant Mortality Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
Foundational practices for health equity was developed to help leaders in state health departments evaluate their agency's capacity to advance health equity and take action to transform public health practice.
This tool was developed to assist state public health organizations to:
- Introduce a set of foundational practices to advance health equity within an organization and with partners
- Identify and document the organization’s current capabilities and practices against seven practices that provide a solid foundation for public health to advance health equity
- Track improvements and changes in capabilities and practices
The Learning and Action Tool begins with an overview of a framework developed by the Commission on Social Determinants of Health and the World Health Organization. This framework shows the connections between structural determinants of health and health outcomes.
The authors articulate seven foundational practices for addressing these determinants and advancing health equity. These are:
- Expand the understanding of health in words and action
- Assess and influence the policy context
- Lead with an equity focus
- Use data to advance health equity
- Advance health equity through continuous learning
- Support successful partnerships and strengthen community capacity
- Assure strategic and targeted use of resources
There are distinct sections in the document that describe and define each foundational practice and guide the reader in assessing their organization’s engagement within it.
When to use
The Learning and Action Tool can be used as a planning tool to assess and improve a state health department’s ability to advance health equity.
You can also get ideas for action steps that you might take within your organization by looking at the key questions posed under each suggested organizational capability.
You might use excerpts of the sections for focused conversations with staff or community partners.
The authors also provide suggestions for how to use the WHO framework to identify contributing factors to inequities in specific health outcomes. Appendix A provides a specific application related to infant mortality.
Things to consider
The authors indicate that the assessment is best completed by a team of individuals who understand the organization’s structures and functions.
The entire Learning and Action Tool is comprehensive and may take considerable time to complete. Organizations may want to assess and implement action steps for one foundational practice over a period of time rather than complete the full assessment if time is limited.
Use this resource