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Spreading Hope

BMGC Guest Author

Derek Chapman, PhD

Interim Director, VCU Center on Society and Health



A new interactive data tool is now available from the Health Opportunity and Equity (HOPE) Initiative to help our nation and individual states move beyond measuring disparities to spurring action to achieving health equity. This state-of-the-art platform supports a new narrative on health inequities and provides achievable pathways for states to eliminate them. Comprehensive data on populations of color is a critical resource for policymakers as well as members of the medical and public health fields.

HOPE data allow us to envision an America that would be dramatically different if the impacts of racism embedded in our society was eliminated and everyone experienced equal social, economic, and health opportunities: 70 million more people would live in low-poverty neighborhoods; 55 million more adults would live in households with a livable income; 54 million more adults would achieve very good or excellent health; and 32 million more people would have food security.

HOPE tracks 27 social determinants of health and health outcomes by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status for all 50 states as well as the nationwide average. These data identify which states’ residents are doing well and where states can do more to help residents be healthier.

The indicators chosen for this project span the life course and measure the outcomes, opportunities, and resources people need to achieve optimal health and well-being. They are grouped into five domains: health outcomes, social and economic factors, community and safety factors, the physical environment, and access to health care. Within each domain, the indicators reflect actionable public policy decisions and social systems embedded in our society. The HOPE Goals are national benchmarks set for each indicator based on best outcomes achieved in the top five states. These aspirational benchmarks are possible because some people are already achieving them. The Distance to Goal metric shows how much progress the nation and each state must make to achieve the HOPE Goal on a particular indicator, overall and by race and ethnicity.

In providing this information, HOPE shares data with individuals seeking to dismantle systemic racism and achieve health equity so that they can learn: 1) where health and opportunity gaps are among people of different races and ethnicities; 2) what aspirational but achievable goals for health equity look like; 3) the distance to go to move the dial and make these goals a reality; and 4) where bright spots exist to understand which policies and actions are driving equity in practice.

National and state policymakers, advocates, and other stakeholders are encouraged to use the HOPE data to measure how far states must go to achieve equitable opportunities for health and well-being, as well as inform policy solutions and practices that advance health equity.

Sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, HOPE is a partnership of the National Collaborative for Health Equity, Texas Health Institute, and Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center on Society and Health.

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