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Boston Health Sciences Schools

Topic Summary: 

The pursuit of health equity has been defined as:

 “striving for the highest possible standard of health for all people and giving special attention to the needs of those at greatest risk of poor health, based on social conditions.” (Braverman 2014).

Implicit in this definition is the assumption that health equity seeks to reduce- and ultimately- eliminate disparities in health and health care outcomes.

It is important to point out that not all observed health differences are disparities.

According to Healthy People 2020, a health disparity is defined as:

“a health difference that is closely linked with economic, social, or environmental disadvantage. Health disparities adversely affect groups of people who have systematically experienced greater social or economic obstacles to health based on their racial or ethnic group, religion, socioeconomic status, gender, age, or mental health; cognitive, sensory, or physical disability; sexual orientation or gender identity; geographic location; or other characteristics historically linked to discrimination or exclusion.”