Vulnerability and Unmet Needs
The differences that create health gaps undermine health equity. They arise from a range of factors, including the circumstances in which we are born and live, such as our housing, education and work. They are often made worse by discrimination, stereotyping, and prejudice based on individual-level factors, many of which are protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, such as our sex, race, gender or age. Each of these factors can lead to health gaps on their own, but they can also overlap and, in turn, create multiple disadvantages and deepen health inequities.
Health inequities have long been linked to processes and conditions that systematically prevent or restrict population groups from gaining economic, social, political and cultural inclusion. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened existing health inequities, drawing further attention to structural disadvantage and discrimination. The pandemic has also led to new gaps in areas such as the ability to work from home and digital access, creating emerging drivers of vulnerability and unmet needs. Furthermore, cost of living pressures are having significant impacts that can undermine health inequity, particularly on the poorest households in Wales.
The Five Essential Conditions
This section provides examples of resources exploring health inequalities in the context of vulnerability and unmet needs, aligned to the five essential conditions. The resources cover a range of the protected characteristics, including where they overlap and lead to multiple disadvantage, sometimes referred to as the ‘intersectionality’ of protected characteristics. Other circumstances that are not considered protected characteristics, such as deprivation and homelessness, are also covered.
Featured resources include reports, policy briefs, research briefs and research articles in peer-reviewed academic journals. All resources focus on health inequalities in Wales (see UK and international for non-Wales resources).
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