A Practitioner's Guide for Advancing Health Equity is designed to help public health practitioners advance health equity through community prevention strategies. While health disparities can be addressed at multiple levels, this guide focuses on policy, systems, and environmental improvements designed to improve the places where people live, learn, work, and play. It is designed for those who are new to the concept of health equity, as well as those who are already working to create equitable environments.

All people and communities deserve equal opportunities to be healthy, but good health isn't distributed evenly across our society. Low-income communities, particularly communities of color, are more likely to lack access to healthy foods, smoke-free air, and safe places to play and be active, and to be located near Superfund sites. These health inequities are an injustice -- but they're preventable.

The guide was released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It was developed by Prevention Institute with the input of practitioners and researchers from across the United States, including technical reviewers from local health departments, community-based organizations, national organizations, and CDC subject matter experts. It includes dozens of case studies that showcase the great work being done by local health departments and coalitions, including these:

  • In San Francisco, CA, the California LGBT Tobacco Education Partnership worked with the city to pass a city-wide policy removing the sale of tobacco products in its pharmacies, affecting an estimated 100 pharmacies-- and ensuring access to tobacco-free pharmacies for all of the city's 805,000 residents.
  • In Louisville, KY, Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness implemented the Healthy Hometown Restaurant Initiative, designed to encourage restaurants to provide healthier options for their patrons. Outreach efforts led many restaurant owners throughout the city, including in low-income neighborhoods, to alter their menus and provide nutrition labeling information for their menus.
  • In Jefferson County, AL, a coalition of local conservation and health organizations worked with the county's health department to improve residents' access to walking trails. With input from over 3,000 residents, the coalition created the Red Rock Ridge and Valley Trail System Master Plan, which connects more than 200 miles of greenways and trails to homes, schools, churches and businesses.

The guide is designed to help health practitioners develop, enhance, and apply the critical skills necessary for advancing health equity in their community. It provides tips and concrete strategies to ensure that initiatives decrease disparate health outcomes, as well as increase community buy-in to achieve good health for all. The guide focuses on four key areas to increase equitable health outcomes: strategies to incorporate equity into foundational principles of public health practice, tobacco-free living strategies, healthy food and beverage strategies, and active living strategies.

Readers will find:

  • Tips to help build organizational capacity; develop partnerships; foster meaningful engagement; and design and evaluate equity-oriented strategies.
  • Strategies, based in evidence and honed by practice, that are designed to reduce health disparities and create healthy communities for all.
  • Information about potential barriers and unintended consequences that can hinder chronic disease prevention efforts.
  • Examples of successful equity-oriented approaches to improving public health and reducing disparities, drawn from communities across the country.