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Health Equity Definitions

Health Inequity

Disparities in health [or health care] that are systemic and avoidable and, therefore, considered unfair or unjust.

Health Equity

Health equity is achieving the highest level of health for all people. Health equity entails focused societal efforts to address avoidable inequalities by equalizing the conditions for health for all groups, especially for those who have experienced socioeconomic disadvantage or historical injustices.- From Healthy People 2020

Health Disparities

Differences in health status among distinct segments of the population including differences that occur by gender, race or ethnicity, education or income, disability, or living in various geographic localities.

Social Determinants of Health

Those inter-related social and economic factors that influence health

Social determinants of health include, but are not limited to: socioeconomic status, discrimination, housing, physical environment, food security, child development, culture, social support, healthcare services, transportation, working conditions, and democratic participation.

The World Health Organization defines social determinants of health as "complex, integrated, and overlapping social structures and economic systems that include the social environment, physical environment, and health services; structural and societal factors that are responsible for most health inequities. Social determinants of health are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national, and local levels, which are themselves influenced by policy choices."

Social Justice

Social justice is the equitable distribution of social, economic and political resources, opportunities, and responsibilities and their consequences.

Social Justice Framework

  • Marginalization based on race, class, gender, and other social classifications underlies the inequitable distribution of social, economic and political resources and opportunities
  • This unequal distribution of resources and opportunities is manifested through inequitable access and exposure to social determinants of health
  • Through direct and indirect mechanisms, the result is health inequities


Last Updated: 04-02-2013

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