Blog > Introducing our new series: The A–Z of Health Research Equity

Introducing our new series: The A–Z of Health Research Equity

Welcome to the first instalment of COUCH Health’s new series, The A-Z of Health Research Equity – hoorah! If you haven’t met me yet, then hello and welcome. I’m Heidi, COUCH Health’s Director of Health Research Equity. Usually, you can find me working in my home office in Aberdeenshire, wearing a very snuggly jumper and with a huge mug of tea close to hand.

I lead our wonderful Research & Insights team, and I’m passionate about making health research, and by default, the health and care based on that research, more equitable. 

Anyway, enough about me. Grab yourself a drink, pull up a chair, and join me as I share the 5 W’s of The A–Z of Health Research Equity series (the what, why, who, when and where):

  • What is health research equity?
  • Why are you writing this series?
  • Who will benefit from these posts? 
  • When will each post be available?
  • Where can you find this series?

First things first (does anyone else have to stop themselves finishing that phrase with ‘I’m the realest’? No? Just me then…), the biggest question: the what

To explain what health research equity is, there are a few pieces of terminology that I should define first:

  • Equality: Treatment of each individual in the same way.
  • Equity: A state of justice and fairness for all concerned. 

Equality and equity are often used interchangeably; this is incorrect. The difference between the two centres on the areas of the definitions that I’ve underlined above: ‘fairness’ in the definition of equity and ‘in the same way’ in the definition of equality. 

Fairness is not the same as treating each person in the same way; fairness is tailoring the approach to make sure that each person has an equal outcome. Equality focuses on the treatment; equity focuses on the outcome of that treatment. 

Taking that a step further, health equity is the absence of unfair and avoidable differences in health across population groups. We have not yet reached a state of global health equity. 

Life expectancy and length of lives spent in good health have increased, but not for everyone. There are endless statistics I could list here, but one that has stayed with me is that people living in high-income countries have an average life expectancy of 18 years longer than people living in low-income countries. Where we live is somewhat of a lottery, and that lottery impacts how long our lives are. 

There are lots of factors that contribute to health inequity, but a significant one is research inequity. Health research only includes people from specific areas of society (e.g., highly educated, financially secure), meaning that the results of health research primarily improve the health of those groups. Without including people from all corners of society, we do not know that the treatments being tested are effective for everyone.

Health research equity at COUCH Health is defined by our passion to push for health research that is designed and conducted with and for patients, with the ultimate goal of health research that everyone can use and trust. Put simply, better health research means better health. 

That leads me on to the why.

As you may be able to tell, I’m very passionate about the work that we do. Sometimes, that passion could be described as excitement and enthusiasm for the change we are pushing for. When I think about why we do this work, that passion is closer to frustration and sometimes anger. With anger comes action, and this series is part of the action I am taking to change things. 

We live in a world where some patients receive more effective treatment than others simply because of who they are. If we improve research, we can change that. Our A–Z of Health Research Equity will allow me to break down the details of how research can be improved, giving you clarity on what we do at COUCH Health and giving you some ideas on how you can improve your own research. 

I mentioned you then, so who do I mean when I say that?

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you are interested in the work that we do at COUCH Health. This series is for you. You know why we do what we do, this series will give you an opportunity to find out how. 

All that’s left to share is the when and the where – the quick and easy bit! Every 2 weeks, we’ll post a new instalment of this series on the COUCH Health blog. We’ll post on our social media pages to highlight each new post as it’s published, so make sure you’re following us on Instagram and LinkedIn to stay up to date.

I hope to see you back here in 2 weeks for the first letter in our Health Research Equity alphabet. Any guesses on what A is for?

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