Philip M. Farrell 2019 Distinguished Alumni Lecture
Values Underlying the Measurement of Health Inequity
Yukiko Asada, PhD
Department of Community Health and Epidemiology
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Monday, March 11, 2019
1335 Health Sciences Learning Center
A fair distribution of health – health equity – is an important health policy goal endorsed by many jurisdictions. Fundamental to achieving health equity is the ability to measure and regularly report health inequities. Measuring health inequities, however, is complex because it requires considerations of ethics (e.g., defining unfair inequalities), methods (e.g., quantifying health inequities), and policy (e.g., offering policy relevant information). Advances in ethics and methods often take place in technical, specialized disciplines, yet interdisciplinary integration is essential to transform these advances into policy-relevant work. This talk introduces an example of such interdisciplinary integration and discusses three key findings resulting from a decade of exploration: (1) Different definitions of health inequity, vigorously debated in the literature, are unlikely to yield significant differences in empirical estimates of health inequity; (2) Whether to consider unexplained inequality as fair or unfair, a largely overlooked question in the literature, likely brings significant empirical differences; and (3) Different measures of health, even capturing similar measurement constructs, can yield significant differences in empirical estimates of health inequity.
Yukiko Asada is an Associate Professor and the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. She obtained a PhD from the Department of Population Health Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2003. Her PhD dissertation work (later published as a monograph, Health Inequality: Morality and Measurement, from the University of Toronto Press, 2007) was instrumental for her work since, striving to make ethical assumptions explicit in the dialogues about health equity between researchers, policy-makers, and the general public.
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This post was authored by Rosalind Bendix-Lewis on 03/06/2019.