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Keywords

Collaborative efforts; Communication strategy; Health inequities; Municipal officials

Abstract

This study assessed knowledge of health inequities, importance and benefits/barriers of addressing inequities, and ways of communicating information about inequities among municipal officials. Five focus groups (N=47) were conducted with officials from economic development, land use and housing, public safety, education, and environment departments. Discussions were recorded, transcribed and analyzed for key themes. Findings show that participants had an uneven understanding of the symptoms and causes of health inequities and identified limitations to participating in health equity initiatives and collaborating with local health departments. Recommendations are that a communication strategy to reduce health inequities should aim to increase awareness of the links between local government policies and the health status of vulnerable populations. For collaborative efforts to work, local health departments need to make functions of public health more explicit, provide evidence of health inequities and their causes, and demonstrate that they have the commitment and capacity to lead.