Aiming for equity in health materials for CommunicateHealth | health literacy


High: Above the word “equality”, there are 3 doodles of different heights on 3 boxes of the same size. They’re trying to see over a fence to watch a baseball game, but the shortest doodle still can’t see over the fence. Above the word “equity”, the same 3 doodles are behind the same fence, but the short doodle gets 2 boxes, the middle doodle gets 1 box and the high doodle gets no boxes. That way, everyone can see above the fence.

Here a We ❤ Health Literacy Headquarters, we really like to talk about how health communicators (like you!) can help address health disparities. And since then COVID-19 affects some groups much more than others, addressing disparities in our healthcare materials is as urgent as ever.

So this week, we want to take a closer look at the difference between them equality i equity. George Washington University has one a great resource for explaining the difference, but we will give you a brief summary:

  • Equality means giving equality of resources or opportunities to different people or groups. Think of a food bank that offers a standard box of food to all its customers.
  • Equity it means giving each person or group the resources or opportunities they need to reach one the same result. So maybe this same food bank offers custom food boxes based on the size of the home and the dietary needs of the customers, and has a delivery service for people who can’t physically access the food bank.

How does this apply to health communication, you ask? Providing the same information to everyone, in the same format, does not mean that everyone has the same access.

As you develop medical supplies, meet your audience – or better yet, actively involve people from your priority audience in the process of creating your materials.

Then ask yourself how you can ensure an equal outcome for as many people as possible, especially those facing structural barriers or disadvantages. For example, depending on your audience, you can:

Conclusion: To address health disparities, go beyond one-size-fits-all communication materials and remember that equality of resources does not always lead to an equal outcome.

Tweet about it: Equality of resources does not mean equality of results. So go beyond a single size in your #HealthLit materials, says @CommunicateHlth: #HealthDisparities #HealthEquity

Image inspiration courtesy of Institute of Interaction for Social Change i Angus Maguire.

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