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 – Refers to 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 – 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 – 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 Disparities – Health disparities are preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Health Equity – Health equity means that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their full health potential, and no one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or any other socially defined circumstance (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine).

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

Health Inequities – Health inequities are avoidable inequalities in health between groups of people who live within the same country.  These inequalities are driven by social and economic conditions and their effects on people’s lives.  These conditions determine their risk of illness and the actions taken to prevent them from becoming ill or to treat illness when it occurs. (WHO)

Although public health practitioners have been “moving upstream” to address the root causes of health issues, all communities have not benefited from these efforts. 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. (ChangeLab Solutions)

Learning – Partners for Health Foundation will prioritize learning in order to inform our priorities and work plans. We need to learn from and build relationships with communities that are under-resourced, 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.

Policy, systems and environmental change – Policy, systems and environmental change (PSE) is a way of modifying the policies, organizational and governmental protocols, and the built and social environments to make healthy choices practical and available to all community members. A PSE approach seeks to reach populations and uncover strategies for impact that are sustainable. 

Populations vulnerable to health inequities – Communities whose needs are not fully addressed by service providers and support institutions, or they do not feel they can comfortably or safely use resources that are offered, are vulnerable to health inequities. Disparities can exist across many dimensions such as race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability status, socioeconomic status, and geographic location. According to Healthy People 2020, all of these factors can shape an individual’s ability to achieve optimal health. 

5 fundamental drivers of health inequities (Change Lab Solutions)

  1. Structural discrimination
  2. Income inequality and poverty
  3. Disparities in opportunity
  4. Disparities in political power
  5. Governance that limits meaningful participation

Social Determinants of Health – A Social Determinants of Health perspective means viewing issues at their source. As defined by the World Health Organization, Social Determinants of Health are “the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. These circumstances are shaped by the distribution of money, power and resources at global, national and local levels.

Structural issues – Structural inequities refer to the systemic disadvantage of one social group compared to other groups with whom they coexist.  The term encompasses policies, laws, governance, and culture and refers to race, ethnicity, gender or gender identity, class, sexual orientation, and other domains. (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine)

Systems Change – Systems change means working to improve organizational and community policies, operations and protocols, and environments in order to achieve better outcomes for all people. Systems change might involve projects that realign relationships between funders, service providers, the community and system users, shifting and redistributing power dynamics to create a more equitable playing field.

Systems change could alternatively include redeveloping rules and regulations or adjusting policies and practices to eschew those that create or reinforce inequity, ineffectiveness, or inefficiency.

Systems change also needs to address problematic cultural norms and incentives that reinforce current power imbalances, in order to achieve greater well-being and impact for all people, particularly people who have been marginalized or underserved.

Thriving – A thriving community is a place where all people have access to good jobs and schools, affordable housing, transportation and 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)