Health Equity Audit: definitions
“HEA is a process for identifying how fairly services or other resources are distributed in relation to the health needs of different groups and areas, and the priority action to provide services relative to need. The overall aim is not to distribute resources equally but, rather, relative to health need. This process assists the planning and decision-making processes of organisations. It determines whether the distribution of health outcomes, healthcare or the determinants of health are inequitable or unrelated to need, and action is then taken to remedy and monitor progress. The purpose is for health and other services to help narrow health inequalities by taking positive decisions on investment, service planning, commissioning and delivery that narrow inequalities.”
[Health Development Agency, Clarifying approaches to: health needs assessment, health impact assessment, integrated impact assessment, health equity audit, and race equality impact assessment, 2005]
HEAs can be broad in scope, covering whole populations and embracing a range of health needs and services, e.g.:
More commonly, however, the term is used to describe audits of the equity/fairness of particular services addressing particular health needs. A number of case studies are highlighted elsewhere in these pages.