As Healthy People has evolved over the decades to reflect the most current science and address the latest public health priorities, it has strengthened its focus on health equity. This focus is reflected in one of the overarching goals of Healthy People 2030: “Eliminate health disparities, achieve health equity, and attain health literacy to improve the health and well-being of all.”

Healthy People 2030’s emphasis on health equity is closely tied to its focus on health literacy and social determinants of health. Social determinants — like structural racism or systemic bias — can affect health literacy and contribute to health disparities. Taking steps to address these factors is key to achieving health equity.

In line with this focus, Healthy People 2030 provides tools for action to help individuals, organizations, and communities committed to improving health and well-being advance health equity.

Leveraging Healthy People to Advance Health Equity

Health equity is the attainment of the highest level of health for all people.

Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and social determinants of health — and to eliminate disparities in health and health care. 

Objectives

Identify priorities by browsing Leading Health Indicators and other objectives

Compare population-level progress to national targets

Data

Use Healthy People data to track health disparities and inform program and policy development

Resources

Find inspiration by consulting evidence-based resources to use in your community

Review Healthy People in Action stories to learn how others are addressing health equity

Frameworks

Use the Healthy People 2030 framework as a model for program planning

Use the social determinants of health framework to build partnerships across sectors and communicate root causes of health disparities

Definitions

Use the definitions of health equity and health disparities to promote a shared understanding and identify areas for collaborative action to improve health for all

How Does Healthy People Define Health Equity and Health Disparities?

Defining health equity and health disparities promotes a shared understanding of these concepts and helps individuals, organizations, and communities nationwide align their resources and efforts — and identify areas for collaboration.

Similar to Healthy People 2020, Healthy People 2030 defines health equity as “the attainment of the highest level of health for all people. Achieving health equity requires valuing everyone equally with focused and ongoing societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities, historical and contemporary injustices, and the elimination of health and health care disparities.”

Healthy People 2030 defines a health disparity as “a particular type of health difference that is closely linked with social, economic, and/or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group; religion; socioeconomic status; gender; age; mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.”

 

How Does Healthy People 2030 Address Health Disparities?

Measuring health disparities is essential to advancing health equity. That’s why Healthy People 2030 monitors differences across population groups as it tracks progress toward meeting objectives. Healthy People data tools summarize and display these health disparities to help identify priority populations.

Healthy People 2030 also features evidence-based resources focused on strategies that are proven to improve health. These resources include interventions to address public health issues among specific population groups and improve the health of all people.

In addition, Healthy People 2030 collects Healthy People in Action stories that highlight how states, communities, and organizations address health disparities, advance health equity, and improve health by:

  • Using evidence-based interventions and strategies
  • Evaluating interventions
  • Forming multisector collaborations

Health Equity and Health Disparities Environmental Scan

Learn more about health equity and health disparities definitions and frameworks

The Health Equity and Health Disparities Environmental Scan explored how health equity and health disparities are defined and communicated within the field of public health.

Download the report [PDF – 3.53 MB]