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Action Plan 9: Position the AAMC as a National Leader in Health Equity and Health Justice

Philip Alberti, PhD, discusses the Center for Health Justice, which offers a space to work together and look beyond medical care to the other factors that create opportunities for communities to thrive.

Despite decades of effort by various sectors — including public health and medicine — health inequities and injustices persist in our nation.

This action plan created the AAMC Center for Health Justice in September 2021 to contribute to the solutions to health inequities by innovating, collaborating, and digging deeper to ensure that systems and structures shift toward justice. The center will spark community collaborations with diverse sectors and individuals contributing their unique resources in service of the common cause of health justice.

The center convenes two groups of health justice champions and collaborators who lend their voices to key efforts, including the Multisector Partner Group – comprised of individuals from sectors representing the diverse social and political determinants of health at the national and local levels – and AAMC CHARGE (Collaborative for Health Equity: Act, Research, Generate Evidence).

Where we are now

  • In May 2023, the center hosted a virtual Maternal Health Equity Workshop as a follow-up to the 2022 Maternal Health Incubator to bring together clinical care, research, public health, and technology to explore the potential for new artificial intelligence (AI) tools to build the qualitative data infrastructure needed to address maternal health inequities.
  • The center regularly polls a nationally representative sample of adults across the United States to gather public opinions in real-time. Since December 2021, the center has released several polling research briefs, including a recent study of Generation Z and their attitudes on health care access, reproductive rights, and other vital conditions for health.
  • The center has published two health justice research briefs: One examining the positive effect of access to paid leave on racial and ethnic maternal health inequities; and a second brief examining a new legislative wave of care restrictions in many states that endangers the mental health and well-being of transgender youth, which has been cited by national policy and LGBTQ+ equity organizations.
  • In partnership with the REDCap team at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, we are piloting the cloud-based version of the Health Equity Inventory (HEI) with enhanced reporting, data sharing capabilities, and greater applicability to sectors beyond medicine. The HEI helps build, maintain, and strengthen collaborations by providing transparent, real-time insight into community-based health equity-focused projects. Monitoring and evaluation efforts are underway during this two-year implementation phase. The pilot will conclude at the end of 2023.
  • The center continues to participate in the Federal government’s request for feedback on governmental activities, including proposed policy and regulation. In November 2022, we submitted a response to the Department of Health and Human Services’ request for feedback on the Healthy People 2030 initiative and the proposed addition of voting as a social determinant of health. In December 2022, three members from AAMC CHARGE joined AAMC staff at an Office of Management and Budget listening session and contributed comments on the office’s efforts to revise collection standards to improve the data available for measuring racial and ethnic health inequities.

What happens next

  • Co-developed with the Multisector Partner Group, the center announced its fourth area of focus – environmental justice. A health justice fellow will join the center in September 2023 to support the environmental justice portfolio.
  • A series of online and in-person events are being held with AAMC CHARGE members in 2023 to co-develop a research agenda for the next fiscal year. The Multisector Partner Group will also be engaged in this effort, and the agenda will be made available in summer 2023.
  • In the coming months, we will release an application for researchers across the nation to leverage polling data collected by the center in order to spark health equity science. This call for research will also engage CHARGE to help produce poll domains. We will deploy the poll and prepare the data in the fall of 2023 and announce the call in early 2024.
  • Later this year, the center will announce a funding opportunity for communities and multisector partners to implement and evaluate the Principles of Trustworthiness Toolkit to determine what works well and identify opportunities for improvement.

Ways to get involved