The Framework presented in this document is intended to help OMH, its partners and other stakeholders to use a more systems-oriented and strategic approach, based on existing science and knowledge, to attack the problems related to racial/ethnic minority health and health disparities. In the short run, this framework is being used by OMH to guide the development of a protocol for the evaluation of activities being funded in the states and elsewhere to improve racial/ethnic minority health and reduce racial/ethnic health disparities. In the longer run, this strategic framework can help in multiple ways:
- First, the Framework can help enhance the understanding of policymakers, policy analysts, researchers, practitioners and others about the key strategic components that must be addressed in developing policies or programs that affect racial and ethnic minority populations. These components are identified as the major categories and subcategories in the strategic framework.
- Second, the Framework can help deepen understanding about the many ways in which the components relate to one another. These relationships are multiple and complex, but the strategic framework has been designed to make it easier to articulate these multiple and complex relationships, as they play out in concrete situations within communities, states, Tribes and the nation.
- Third, the Framework will make it easier to identify areas and issues that need more input–whether by improved research, data systems, coordination in the use of research results, provision of services or training of practitioners–if progress is to be made in improving racial/ethnic minority health and reducing or eliminating racial/ ethnic health disparities.
- Fourth, the Framework can evolve and improve, both in its structure and in its details, through the full participation of interested parties at the national, state, Tribal and local levels, and in both the public and the private sectors.
- Finally, the Framework can give rise to more systematic planning, testing, documentation and use of evidence-based strategies and practices that really work. Because of its flexibility, the Framework makes it clear that progress in developing and using evidence-based strategies and practices can arise from any number of sources. The Framework can provide users with a better understanding of the exact problems and factors to be addressed, the kinds of components of strategies and practices that may best contribute to effectiveness, the measures of outcomes and impacts that are appropriate and feasible and the kinds of goals and objectives that are realistic and achievable.
Improving the health of racial and ethnic minorities and reducing and, ultimately, eliminating the burden of health disparities will require a multi-faceted process sustained over many years. This process must be guided by systems-oriented, strategic and systematic approaches.[D]
Chart. A Strategic Framework for Improving Racial/Ethnic Minority Health and Eliminating Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities.