CP TIG Week: Meenoo Mishra on Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity Tools

My name is Meenoo Mishra and I am the owner of Mishra Consulting, a public health writing and communications firm based in northern Virginia. For the past six years I have worked on promoting health equity and addressing health disparities within state health agencies. State health agencies are an important part of the larger public health infrastructure and it is critical that we include them in national health equity efforts. As we all know, addressing the social determinants of health is essential in improving health equity outcomes.  In addition to grant-funded programs, state public health agencies have many opportunities to integrate social determinants of health and health equity outcomes into their work. Other agency-wide initiatives such as accreditation, state health improvement plans, community health needs assessments, health impact assessments, and state health in all policies task forces can all be used to further health equity goals. This post will offer some tools for integrating social determinants of health and health equity within all areas of public health practice.

Hot Tip: Include health equity objectives and strategies in your organization’s strategic plans and priorities. Go beyond program-specific goals and keep health equity objectives central to your organization’s daily work. For example, ensure that leadership in your organization understands the impacts of their work on health equity.

Rad Resource: Check out the Health Equity Review Planning Tool from the Washington State Department of Health. This tool will help you assess the potential impact of your proposals and programs on health equity.

Hot Tip: Make health equity a requirement in your organization’s grants and contract processes. Consider collaborating with other agencies to address outcomes that go beyond health, such as housing, education, environmental quality, and employment.

Rad Resource:  Use tools such as County Health Rankings and Roadmaps, America’s Health Rankings, and GIS to identify inequities in communities. Supplement the quantitative data with qualitative methods (interviews and focus groups) to include community-identified health perspectives and priorities.

Rad Resource: Community Commons has a Vulnerable Population Footprint tool that you can use to create maps that identify community areas with specific levels of educational attainment and poverty. This can help you determine where you need to focus the most resources.

Cool Trick: Work on improving the social determinants of health within your communities by setting up a Health in All Policies Task Force. This Task Force can oversee and increase your organization’s opportunities for collaborating with many agencies and departments, not just health services and public health.

Rad Resource:  Check out the Equitable Development Toolkit from PolicyLink. This toolkit offers 27 tools to reverse patterns of segregation and disinvestment, support healthy neighborhoods, and promote equitable revitalization by tool or issue area.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating CP TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

4 thoughts on “CP TIG Week: Meenoo Mishra on Social Determinants of Health and Health Equity Tools”

  1. My department has added two questions to our bill analysis process when reviewing proposed legislation. They are related to health equity and tribal health. We have just completed an evaluation of the quality of responses and will make recommendations to senior leadership aroung training and resource needs. More to come. Gail

    1. That’s wonderful, Gail! I am excited that the toolkit continues to expand to reach more of the state health agency’s work to address health equity.

  2. Within your discussion there is great talk repeated over organization collaboration and identification. The issue to me is that much of the funding and manpower for organizations that are designed to help people is exhausted in this repeated learning process. Funding is designed to help, programs are in place and should not need continued or repeated identification and or collaboration purposes, it uses valuable resources that our public needs and solves little. The big issues is appointed agencies not pulling their weight and overuse of funding internally, we know the issues, we know who is affected, we just are not helping the people. Where is the money?

    1. I understand your frustration! I know that using money in health reform for health equity goals has helped organizations in the past, but it depends on what your objectives are. I think everyone has to do more with less and we are trying to make sure health equity does not get left out.

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