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How are Equity and Equality Aspects applied and communicated in Nordic Health Policy Documents?

Paper i proceeding
Författare Lene Povlsen
Leena Eklund
Susann Regber
Gabriella Sandstig
Elisabeth Fosse
Publicerad i 9th European IUHPE Health Promotion Conference in Tallin Estonia September 27–29 2012
Publiceringsår 2012
Publicerad vid Institutionen för journalistik, medier och kommunikation (JMG)
Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
Språk en
Ämnesord Equity; Equality; Health Policy; Nordic Countries; Document Analysis
Ämneskategorier Hälsovetenskaper, Annan samhällsvetenskap


Objective: To explore how the terms equity and equality were named and applied in various texts and health documents, and the political measures applied and communicated for addressing and reducing inequity/social inequalities in health in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Methods: Nordic documents concerning public health, with special focus on steering documents and action programmes were collected and analysed by Nordic authors. Data included 1) translations of the terms ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ in approved dictionaries; 2) translations of the Ottawa Charter, if available; 3) material from websites of ministries and authorities responsible for public health issues in the four countries, with primary focus on steering documents and action programmes from 2001-2011. The documents were analysed by document analysis and focused on 1) How the terms ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ were expressed and understood in the selected documents; 2) How the measures for addressing and reducing inequity/social inequalities in health were communicated, with special focus on the social gradient and vulnerable groups; 3) The national policies applied for addressing inequity aspects, with special focus on upstream and downstream measures. Results: The terms ‘equity’ and ‘equality’ were translated in a precise and accurate way in the dictionaries of all four countries, while ‘equity’ was translated incorrectly in the three versions of the Ottawa Charter identified. The public documents focused on inequalities in health but the strategies for addressing them varied among the countries. Some emphasised autonomy and individual choice; some focused more on vulnerable groups than on the social gradient; and some emphasised downstream more than upstream measures. Conclusions: All Nordic countries have been labelled ‘social democratic’ welfare states. Still, this study shows that even though both equity and equality aspects were applied and communicated in public health documents, it was quite different to which extent these aspects were concretely prioritised.

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