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English glossary of essential health equity terms

This glossary contains 21 core terms used internationally by public health staff in their health equity work.  Each term is accompanied by a sentence, illustrating how it could be used in day-to-day practice with colleagues and partners.

The NCCDH team developed the glossary in response to requests from our public health audience:  we were asked to help practitioners develop a clearer and more consistent understanding of health equity terms.  The glossary project began with a literature search, included focus groups with practitioners and NCCDH staff, and ended with an external review. 

The glossary is available as a pdf document, and as an interactive page on our website.  It is currently available in English and French.  The definitions are intended to both support and create dialogue among our colleagues and associates.  To this end, our website includes a comment box at the bottom of each definition and example sentence.  Visitors can leave comments for us; with your input, the glossary will develop and change over time.

Use this resource to

• Promote a clear and effective use of language among members of your team

• Explore ways of talking about core health equity concepts to clarify and enrich discussions with your partners and audiences

• Challenge yourself to integrate health equity terms into your core communication tools and strategies


National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2014). Glossary of essential health equity terms.  Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.

Link where glossary webpage is located (English)

Link where glossary webpage is located (French)


Related Work 

1. Vancouver Coastal Health Population Health: Advocacy guideline and resources
2. Communicating the social determinants of health common messaging guidelines
3. Let’s talk … populations and the power of language
4. Let’s talk … health equity
5. What are the social determinants of health?  
6. An inter-sectoral approach for improving health literacy for Canadians: a discussion paper
7. A new way to talk about the social determinants of health


Tags: Communicate, Health literacy, Key concepts, Knowledge translation , Report / Document

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