What is the Health Equity Index?
The Health Equity Index is a community-based assessment instrument that can be used to identify social, political, economic, and environmental conditions and their correlations to specific health outcomes. The Health Equity Index is implemented in conjunction with public health workforce development and community engagement strategies as an overall approach to address health inequities.
Why was the Health Equity Index Developed?
Unlike approaches that describe differences in health status among certain populations (termed "health disparities"), the Health Equity Index was developed to focus community action to address health inequities.
What does the Health Equity Index Do?
- Illuminates conditions in neighborhoods and communities that impact health.
- Encourages collaboration among all community stakeholders to address health inequities.
- Assists policymakers' efforts to utilize prevention for the improvement of community health.
How does the Health Equity Index Work?
The Health Equity Index is based on nine social determinants known to be linked to health status:
- Economic Security
- Environmental Quality
- Health Care Access
- Civic Involvement/Political Access
- Community Safety and Security
Within each determinant are a number of Indicators (measures) that combine to form the core index. A methodology is employed to standardize scoring among the determinants and to adjust for the varying number of Indicators for each Determinant. Statistical analysis then reveals the strength and significance of the linkages (correlations) among the Indicators and specific health outcomes.
Based on the data collected, a reference is determined (statewide mean or median) and a ten point measurement scale developed. Each neighborhood receives a score for each Indicator, Component, Determinant, and an overall Index Score. These scores are then tested for significance and strength of correlation with demographic variables and health status/outcomes, all also measured at the neighborhood level. Health outcomes such as incidence/prevalence of illness, disease and injury, mortality, and years of potential life lost are examined. Each indicator has an explicit definition, reference, data source, and rationale.
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