Equity in Action: Mapping Public Health Networks to Accelerate Change


On August 25, 2021, a Systems for Action panel presented "Equity in Action: Mapping Public Health Networks to Accelerate Change" at the 2021 Public Health in the Rockies conference in Keystone, CO. 

A large body of evidence demonstrates how social determinants influence health and health equity for communities. In order to advance network solutions to health problems, this Systems for Action research investigates the association between public health system capital and the proportion of community health initiatives and public health programming aimed at reducing health inequities/disparities, as well as the inclusion of tribal organizations in networks.
The National Longitudinal Survey of Public Health Systems (NALSYS) is a unique survey that follows a nationally-representative cohort of local public health systems. The survey asks local public health officials in each community to report information on a set of nationally recommended activities for monitoring, protecting and improving health status at the population level and which community sectors are involved in them. A composite score of the local public health system capital indicates the scope of public health systems’ implementation of population health activities and the density of their networks.
Results include: 
• The composite score of a local public health system’s capital was significantly associated with the probability of community-driven efforts being aimed at reducing health inequities/disparities (p<.05)
• The probability of a local public health system directing efforts to reducing inequities/disparities significantly increased as the county’s percent of the non-white population increased (p<.05). 
• 15.7% of surveyed counties reported the inclusion of tribal organizations in community health networks (n=1084)
• Proximity to tribal land and tribal-led health organizations, and local American Indian and Alaska Native populations above 1% of the total population were predictors of including tribal organizations
The presenters describe lessons learned about how public health leaders in the region can facilitate cross-sector alignment and accelerate the impact of specific strategies related to health equity. Presenters also describe trends in the capacity of local public health in the region and next steps for the research.


  • Glen Mays, PhD | Director at Systems for Action and Chair of the Health Systems, Management & Policy Department at the Colorado School of Public Health
  • Kyla Bauer | PhD candidate at the Colorado School of Public Health
  • Elleni Mehari, MA | PhD candidate at the Colorado School of Public Health
  • Greg Tung, PhD | Assistant Professor at the Colorado School of Public Health
  • Danielle Varda, PhD | CEO of Visible Networks Lab

Click here to download the presentation slides.