A New Definition of Health Equity

Redefining Health Equity and its Implications for Public Policy

The research article Health Equity: A Concept Analysis (Lewis et al., 2023) sought to investigate health equity through an extensive review of its definitions and meaning, including what constitutes unfairness. The authors assert that health equity is not just about reducing disparities and the differences in health outcomes, it’s about creating a fair and just system where everyone has a chance to reach their full health potential, regardless of their background or circumstances, and that the ethical principles from the Belmont report of respect for persons, beneficence, and justice are upheld.

This research recommends addressing the root causes of disparities, and not just the symptoms of disparities. It suggests involving communities in the research and the decision-making process to ensure that the research benefits the communities. Finally, they recommend a unified definition of health equity to guide policy and research. They suggest that an appropriate definition of health equity is “the fair and just opportunity for all people to achieve their full health potential without variation from personal characteristics, historical oppression, and societal influences.”

To achieve health equity, the research asserts that societal and structural factors must be addressed including poverty, legal and political discrimination, lack of access to healthcare, environmental hazards, how research is conducted, and bridging the digital and technology divide. Achieving health equity goes beyond closing health disparity gaps; it necessitates a transformative approach addressing societal, historical, and legal barriers that unfairly impact individuals’ and communities’ access to optimal health.

This research analysis clarifies “health equity,” emphasizing fair access to optimal health for all, regardless of background. It calls for addressing diverse factors and building research, policy, and practice that prioritizes fairness, combats existing biases, and promotes true health equity for all.

This research underscores the need for healthcare policy to shift beyond addressing health disparities and instead focus on creating systemic changes that promote fair and just access to optimal health for all. Policymakers should prioritize addressing the multifaceted antecedents of health equity, engaging communities as partners, and fostering responsible research practices to create an equitable healthcare system.

References

Lewis, C. L., Yan, A., Williams, M. Y., Apen, L. V., Crawford, C. L., Morse, L., Valdez, A. M., Alexander, G. R., Grant, E., Valderama-Wallace, C., & Beatty, D. (2023). Health equity: A concept analysis. Nursing Outlook, 71(5), 102032. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.outlook.2023.102032