Key Terms

Community – A group of people who are located in a specific geographic area, or a group of people who share a common identity or characteristic, but who may not be located in a single geographic area. (ChangeLab Solutions: A Blueprint for Changemakers

Community Voice – In this instance, the voice of community members who disproportionately experience health inequities. Health equity issues can be identified and solutions can be found within the communities in which they occur. 

Constituents – Constituents are defined as people who benefit from the services provided by an organization. 

Partners for Health agrees with The Meyer Foundation, which uses the term constituents often, as below in a message to their grantees.

The term “Constituents” refers to the people most directly impacted by the systems your organization’s work seeks to change. Your constituents have the most to gain or lose from the outcomes of your organization’s work. Using this term rather than clients, participants, or beneficiaries is intended to communicate the knowledge, power, and value of those most affected by inequities and recognizes the need for their leadership to create lasting change. (The Meyer Foundation)

Health – Health is a state of complete physical, mental, spiritual, cultural and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity (World Health Organization). 

Partners for Health Foundation acknowledges that health needs evolve over the course of a lifetime.

Health Equity – Health equity is the absence of avoidable, unfair, or remediable differences among groups of people, whether those groups are defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically or by other means of stratification. (WHO)

Other valuable definitions include that of Paula Braveman: “Health equity is the principle underlying a commitment to reduce—and, ultimately, eliminate—disparities in health and in its determinants, including social determinants.”   (American Medical Association: Advancing Health Equity Guide)

Health for All – Is only achieved with an intentional effort to eliminate the systems and policies that support health inequities. 

Health Inequities – A measurable, systemic, avoidable and unjust difference in health care access, utilization, quality and outcomes between groups, stemming from differences in levels of social advantage and disadvantage. (American Medical Association: Advancing Health Equity Guide) The goal for Partners for Health Foundation is to learn which communities are not thriving because their needs are not being adequately addressed, and to find ways to change the distribution of healthy environments, economic resources and opportunities through new and improved policies, practices and systems.

Learning – Partners for Health Foundation will prioritize learning in order to inform our priorities and work plans. We recognize the need to build relationships with and learn from communities that have been marginalized and under-resourced. We will also engage with safety-net service providers, and those who develop and administer policies, protocols and practices that drive health outcomes.

Lived Experience – Lived experience refers to a representation of the experiences of a given person, and the knowledge that they gain from these experiences. People with lived experience provide an authentic perspective that contributes to a deeper and richer understanding of service gaps. Lasting transformation occurs when these wise voices are welcomed, heard and acted upon.

Policy, systems and environmental change – Policy, systems and environmental change (PSE) is a way of modifying policies, organizational and governmental protocols, and the built and social environments to make healthy choices practical and available to all community members. 

Social Determinants of Health – Refer to the underlying community-wide social, economic and physical conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. They affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. These determinants and their unequal distribution according to socially defined circumstances, result in differences in health status between population groups that are avoidable and unfair. (American Medical Association: Advancing Health Equity Guide)

Social determinants of health inequitiesRefer to the connection between social determinants of health and place-specific levels of health inequities. This acknowledges that while underlying community-wide social, economic and physical conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age affect individual level health, they also influence patterns of health inequities within and between communities. (American Medical Association: Advancing Health Equity Guide)

Systems Change – Partners for Health agrees with The Meyer Foundation, which defines systems change as challenging and changing the policies, practices, priorities, and culture that created and perpetuate the inequities exposed and exacerbated during the pandemic.

A change in organizational or legislative policies or in environmental supports that encourages and channels improvement(s) in systems, community, and individual-level health outcomes. (CDC)

Thriving – A thriving community is a place where all people have access to good jobs and schools, affordable housing, reliable transportation, healthy food, and comprehensive healthcare. Residents feel safe as they move throughout the community and know that they are well represented within municipal councils and departments. (Change Lab Solutions)