195332 Title: Engaging Youth in Health Equity Work: Using 'Unnatural Causes' to teach young people about the social determinants of health

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:30 AM

Deborah Allen, ScD , Bureau of Child, Adolescent and Family Health, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston, MA
Background: To move forward a unified agenda for health equity, the Boston Public Health Commission's Office Health Equity and the Boston Area Health Education Center (BAHEC), along with the Boston Public Schools' Office of High School Support, convened an interdisciplinary working group to develop a youth companion guide to educate adolescents about social determinants of health based upon the film series 'Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?'.

Methods: From May to August 2008, the working group developed and piloted the Unnatural Causes Youth Companion Guide. The Guide was developed as an educational tool for becoming informed about health equity and as a resource to promote youth civic engagement. Piloting took place during two summer youth programs. Pilot sessions were co-facilitated by skilled adult youth workers and guest speakers over 7 weeks. The pilot was evaluated using a pre-and-post-survey tool and focus groups.

Results: Over 80 youth engaged in conversations about health equity. On average, the number of youth participants hearing the term health disparities and those that “strongly agreed” they could identify individuals who could make their communities healthier increased. Youth participants' increased the frequency with which they thought about the health of their communities. The Guide is currently being piloted in four public high schools.

Conclusion: We hope to share a practical approach to educate young people about the social determinants of health and to illustrate how engaging youth in a dialogue around the social determinants of health can be used as a strategy to eliminate health disparities.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe an approach for educating adolescents about the social determinants of health that perpetuate racial and ethnic health and health care disparities based upon the Unnatural Causes documentary series. 2. Discuss 2-3 successful strategies for enabling adolescents to analyze issues related to inequality in health that look beyond healthcare and that promote civic engagement and awareness. 3. Explain 3-4 youth-focused activities that foster a deeper understanding of how individuals, communities and governments can address health-related social and economics issues, and ways each can create policy change. 4. Demonstrate 2-3 ways that adolescents can become active change agents in addressing social determinants of health and achieving health equity in their communities.

Keywords: Health Disparities, Social Inequalities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered