Photo of the large group of people on the Health Equity Team standing at the front of the room during a conference.
Published on: Mar 20, 2019

Penn State researchers recently contributed to the “The State of Health Equity in PA” report, compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Health through the Office of Health Equity (OHE).

Max Crowley, director of the Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative and assistant professor in human development and family studies; Michael Donovan, director of policy and outreach with the Administrative Data Accelerator; and Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Research Institute, serve as partners with the OHE through participation in the Pennsylvania Interagency Health Equity Team (PIHET).

PIHET is an innovative, first-in-the-nation application of a federal model to bring unique government agencies together around the topic of promoting health equity.

“Fifteen of Pennsylvania’s executive agencies are represented in PIHET, along with Penn State as an important research partner,” Donovan explained.

OHE defines Health Equity as ”efforts to ensure that all people have full and equal access to opportunities that enable them to lead healthy lives. To achieve health equity, we must treat everyone equally and eliminate avoidable health inequities and health disparities.”

According to Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, health equity is the bedrock of good public health.

“Health equity means that every resident can live healthy no matter their race, location, education or income level," said Levine. "In order to better understand health equity in Pennsylvania, we need to illuminate health inequities and highlight the social determinants of health that drive these preventable gaps. By establishing where these gaps exist, we can begin to help all residents achieve their optimal health outcomes … the impact of which will be felt in every community.”

Penn State helped to support the creation of the PA Health Equity 2030 recommendations and provided insights from the research community for real-world implementation with the Commonwealth. Recommendations include efforts to “invest in the collection, analysis, meaningful use, secure sharing and accessible translation of data to advance health equity,” as well as the promotion of interdisciplinary partnerships and collaborations, exemplified by the productive relationship between Penn State and the PA Department of Health.

“This is a great example of our Penn State community working alongside our Commonwealth partners on important issues that affect Pennsylvanians,” said Mike Stefan, director of state relations in the Office of Government & Community Relations at Penn State.  “This collaboration really shows the depth and breadth of Penn State’s expertise and how we can be supportive to the needs of the Commonwealth, particularly with our research community.”

More information related to the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Office of Health Equity, including the report, can be found here.