Let’s talk… Populations and the power of language
The fourth release in our “Let’s Talk” series explores the language public health practitioners and organizations use to label populations that are identified by their social, economic, geographic or other demographic characteristics. This four-page brochure examines how terminology influences how we frame problems and solutions, make decisions and implement activities that seek to reduce inequities between groups.
This resource is a discussion guide for practitioners who want to talk about choosing terms that positively describe and empower the population groups they refer to. The document includes a discussion of some widely-used terms (e.g., marginalized, vulnerable, priority population), principles and key considerations to guide the language we use, and questions for group discussion.
Use this resource to
- Reflect on the values and assumptions underlying our choice of language in public health
- Consider how the words we use can support or hinder our efforts to reduce health inequities
- Consider the strengths and challenges of using specific terms to identify particular populations
- Spark dialogue and action in lunch room and staff meeting settings
National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2014). Let’s talk: Populations and the power of language. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.
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