Mending the gap: Measurement needs to address policy implementation through a health equity lens

Feb 25, 2024 | McLoughlin

Policies represent a key opportunity to improve the health outcomes of populations, and if implemented well, can reduce disparities affecting marginalized populations. Many policies are only evaluated on whether they elicit their intended health outcome. However, a lack of understanding regarding if and how they are implemented may hinder the intended impact overall and on addressing health disparities. Implementation science offers an array of frameworks and methodological approaches for assessing policy delivery, yet few examples exist that meaningfully include health equity as a core focus. This commentary describes the importance of equity-informed implementation measurement by providing case examples and implications for assessment. In addition, we highlight examples of emerging work in policy implementation grounded in health equity with suggested steps for moving the field forward. The ultimate goal is to move toward open-access measurement approaches that can be adapted to study implementation of a variety of policies at different stages of implementation, driven by input from marginalized populations and implementation practitioners, to move the needle on addressing health disparities.
This article talks about the need to include health equity as a major focus when understanding if and how policies are being implemented. We talk about gaps in the implementation science field and how equity-informed measurement tools can help to bridge this gap. Finally, we give some examples of efforts in place and where others can add to the growing resources to improve policy delivery.

PubMed Abstract

McLoughlin, G. M., Kumanyika, S., Su, Y., Brownson, R. C., Fisher, J. O., & Emmons, K. M. (2024). Mending the gap: Measurement needs to address policy implementation through a health equity lens. Transl Behav Med. doi:10.1093/tbm/ibae004