Perspectives on Health Equity & Social Determinants of Health

National Academy of Medicine, 2018

This collection represents a variety of disciplines and varied schools of thought, and each paper includes a set of the authors’ recommendations to advance the agenda to promote health equity for all.

The series is organized by research approaches and policy implications, systems that perpetuate or ameliorate health disparities, and specific examples of the ways in which  disparities manifest in communities of color. Marks and colleagues lead off with an overview of the Social and Structural Determinants of Health and Health Equity, followed by a section on health equity research and policy. The section leads with a discussion of the relevance of Health Inequities, Social Determinants, and Intersectionality in promoting health equity and social justice (López and Gadsden). An underlying theme is underscored by Tolan et al. in holding that “health equity should be as central if not more so than any other concern, principle, criterion, or value in any national prioritizing of scientific agenda, health status and care goals, knowledge organization and evaluation, practice advisories, and/or policy formulations.” They maintain that health equity is as essential a form of justice as equity in criminal and civil legal protections. Young follows this by drawing a connection between poverty and how The Character Assassination of Black Males can lead to detrimental consequences for public health research. This section continues by providing examples and guidance on how to promote health equity through research and policy, including by dismantling genetic determinism (Lerner). Seidel and colleagues emphasize the need to clearly delineate, conceptually and operationally, the meaning of equity, through an examination of ways in which inequities are perpetuated in Philosophical Perspectives on Social Justice.

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