Course 1 Preview

Why Root Causes?

What is a “root cause” and why do we need to consider root causes when we talk about advancing health equity? Looking for the full Course 1? Access Course 1 here.

Course 1: Why Root Causes? Introduction

Purpose and Overview

What is a “root cause” and why do we need to consider root causes when we talk about advancing health equity? “Why Root Causes?” is the first course in our series and will cover why a root-cause approach is crucial to examining and eliminating health inequity. As public health practitioners, we aim to create public health systems that can support everyone. However, we find time and again that we are not able to reach and support all populations effectively and that some populations consistently have worse health outcomes than others. A root-cause approach helps us to identify who and what generates health inequity, as well as the systems that keep it firmly entrenched in population health efforts. It also helps us to understand why mitigation through traditional programs and services, though necessary, will never end the ongoing production of health inequity. In this course, we’ll explore the meaning and necessity of health equity, the core features of health inequity, and other concepts we will return to throughout this series. We will then highlight some initial strategies for how we can begin to identify root causes of health inequity in different scenarios.

Course 1 Highlights

Screenshot of the Flip Card exercise Characteristics of Western and Native American Medicine
By expanding our methods of inquiry, public health can deepen our knowledge of what creates health inequity and what approaches can address it.
screenshot of root causes page
Exploring the root causes of health inequity reveals the structural reasons why health inequity exists.
screenshot of acting across root levels
Screenshot of 5 whys worksheet
We can use the “5 Whys” exercise to get to the “root” of health inequity and develop more effective strategies to end root causes.

Next Steps

Illustration of a group of people of various genders and races stand and sit around a table conversing
Start a group

Learn together about the roots of health inequity by starting a group for your organization. Our course provides step-by-step guidance on how to facilitate healthy dialogue and exploration.

Illustration of a black man sitting on the ground with a laptop open in his lap
Learn independently

Enroll in the Independent Learners group and complete the course with a community of learners interested in health equity.