Previous course taught at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
SBS 513-01: Measuring and Reporting Health Disparities
Offered: Spring 2 2017
This course is focused on measuring and reporting health disparities and health inequity in the United States. In recent decades efforts across levels of government have focused on describing, monitoring, and even attempting to eliminate disparities in health outcomes across sociodemographic groups (Health People 2000; Health People 2010). Yet, there is a lack of consensus on the conceptual and operational definition of the term disparity; and efforts to eliminate health disparities are often hampered by challenges in the identification and monitoring of difference in health outcomes across social groups, as well as challenges in the identification and monitoring of differences in health outcomes across social groups, as well as challenges in navigating the necessary inter-sectoral collaborations required to address the social determinants of negative health outcomes. Objectives at the federal level (Healthy People 2020) have shifted from efforts attempting to reduce health disparities to efforts that prioritize eliminating disparities and achieving health equity where healthy equity is defined as attainment of the highest level of health for all people. In an effort to describe their efforts to address these federal objectives many states have issued reports outlining their attempts to achieve health equity and reduce/eliminate health disparities. This course uses the process of creating a state level health disparities/health inequality report to contextualize the issues/challenges in the defining, measuring, monitoring, and reporting of health disparities and health inequity. Though many examples used in the course will be focused on measuring and reporting health disparities at the state level, the issues and complexities noted will be applicable across levels of government as well as for non-government entities and research.