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Improving Environments for Health & Health Equity

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Health is not relative: a community, or nation, is only as healthy as its least healthy member


A critical mass of community inspired, research backed evidence has established that the environment in which people live, work and play, including their social, physical, and economic conditions, is the major determinant of their health and safety status. Prevention Institute was founded on a vision of improved environments for all. Over time, the Institute has encouraged community health and health equity by facilitating a deeper collective understanding of how root causes—such as racism and poverty—shape community environments and norms which, in turn, influence outcomes for health, safety, and health equity.

The need to reinvest in communities and to engender health equity is the common thread binding all of the Institute's endeavors. In the area of health equity, per se, the Institute has concentrated on three domains: strengthening the argument for such an approach, developing tools and strategies that are both grounded in quality research and have practical applications for communities and policymakers, and guiding communities in applying effective strategies. The Institute has also been developing the economic case for community-level prevention.

Health for All: California's Strategic Approach to Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities is a blueprint for increasing access to and quality of health care services and understanding that the way root factors play out in community environments must be altered to change health equity. The Institute coordinates some of these alliances grounded in this perspective, such as California's Healthy Places Coalition. Prevention Institute has created multiple tools, such as the Health Equity and Prevention Primer, a web-based training series for public health practitioners and advocates interested in policy advocacy, community change and multi-sector engagement to achieve health equity. 5 Category I Continuing Education Contact Hours (CECH) credit is available for completing the Primer. A compendium resource that the Institute conceived and piloted, and is currently updating for the U.S. Office of Minority Health is THRIVE, a community resilience assessment tool. In addition to developing initiatives and tools, the Institute has published an abundance of written material on this and other subjects. For example, it co-authored Local Solutions to Reduce Inequities in Health and Safety for the Institute of Medicine's Roundtable on Health Disparities.

Listen to Prevention Institute's Ann Whidden on a Government Action and Communications podcast as she covers talks about the benefits of community prevention: prevention saves lives, money, helps business, and supports health equity.