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Beyond indicators …

March 10, 2014

New release! How and what we learned about equity-integrated population health status reporting. The final document in the Learning Together series from the Population Health Status Reporting Initiative is now available on our website; this may be the end of the series, but it’s also the beginning of our work to develop a deeper understanding of what it takes to move beyond health equity indicators to action.

During this initiative we made progress on the question, “how do we best integrate health equity into population health status reporting?.” Like so many questions associated with the social determinants of health and other “wicked problems,” the more we understand the more we want to know.

In the Learning Together Series there are good examples of population health status reports that go beyond indicators to help support action. But it’s not just public health reports that are showing the way.  Quite often we see these types of reports emerging from organizations and collaborations outside of the public health sector.

For example, Vital Signs is a report produced by community foundations across Canada, in collaboration with local partners, to assess and advocate on quality of life issues. Sometimes reports like these are generated by an NGO or NGO collaborations like Campaign 2000, which publishes an annual report card to support the fight to end child poverty. We also see these types of reports emerging from think tanks and policy centres like the Broadbent Centre and their Towards a More Equal Canada report.

In these examples, the intention is to use the data to drive action on a social issue. During the Learning Circle we challenged ourselves to be intentional about driving action on health equity by creating a “theory of change” for population health status reporting. We asked ourselves, what will make it more likely that a population health status report will result in action on the social determinants of health?

We learned about the essential requirements for population health status reporting to generate action on health equity issues:

  • Public health practitioners and organizations, as leaders in population health status reporting, need to have the capacity to produce credible data and high-quality analysis in a timely manner.
  • Public health practitioners and organizations have an emerging role in helping facilitate access to data for others to do their own analysis.
  • Decision makers need to be engaged early in the process of population health status reporting. In the analysis, population health status reporting must clearly communicate the policy implications.
  • It is important for public health practitioners and organizations to develop effective partnerships with other groups that have an interest in social determinants early in the process.
  • Public support is essential for policy change. This means population health status reporting must include strategies to communicate information effectively and have a strategy for public engagement.

The final installment of the Learning Together Series describes what we learned about using a Learning Circle method to enhance critical thinking and creativity throughout our process. It also includes details about integrating health equity into population health status reporting, including a framework of key elements to guide public health practitioners as they work to strengthen their own reporting processes.

We’ve just scratched the surface. There is a lot more to explore on this topic. In fact, we have been working with the other National Collaborating Centres’ to build the foundation for a tool kit that links methods, tools and stories to the different elements of an Equity-Integrated Population Health Status Reporting Framework. Make sure to subscribe to our ENews to stay up to date!

We are also hosting a webinar in partnership with CHNet-Works! on March 28th called “How do I get a health status report off the shelf? Moving equity into action” with guest presenters from Capital Health (Halifax), and the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority. It will be a great opportunity to hear from two organizations that were involved with the Learning Circle and learn about their experience using the promising practice of “purposeful reporting”! So if you’re not satisfied with your report sitting on a shelf, we will see you there!




Assess and report

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