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Let's Talk: Universal and targeted approaches to health equity

The third release in our “Let’s Talk” series explores the approaches public health organizations use to close the gap between the most and least healthy, and reduce disparities all along the  socio-economic status gradient.  This resource is designed as a discussion guide for decision makers and practitioners who want to talk about when and why to use a universal, targeted, targeted universal, or proportionate universal approach—or some combination.  The document includes definitions (e.g. health gap and health gradient), examples and questions to guide group discussion.

Use this resource to:

  • Reflect on the values, assumptions, and evidence underlying public health programs and policy decisions
  • Consider how the design of a public health intervention can narrow or widen the health gap
  • Consider the strengths and challenges of targeted, universal, targeted universal, and proportionate universal approaches to public health interventions
  • Spark dialogue and action in lunch room and staff meeting settings


Glossary of Essential Health Equity Terms

See other resources in our Let's Talk Series.


National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. (2013). Let’s Talk: Universal and targeted approaches to health equity. Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University.

Tags: Key concepts, Modify and orient interventions, Document, Report / Document, Let's Talk