Drawing of people of various ethnic backgrounds and ages with brightly colored shirts, some with masks on, some with glasses, one in a wheelchair, one with a hearing device

Roots of Health Inequity


The Roots of Health Inequity is an online learning collaborative. The course provides a learning environment from which to explore root causes of inequity in the distribution of disease, illness, and death. Video, audio and interactive experiences assist learners in comprehending 10 units of difficult and sensitive topics. 

About this project

The mission of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) is to improve the health of communities by strengthening and advocating for local health departments. NACCHO serves 3000 local health departments and is the leader in providing cutting-edge, skill-building, professional resources and programs, seeking health equity, and supporting effective local public health practices and systems.

The Roots of Health Inequity is an online learning collaborative. The site offers a starting place for those who want to address systemic differences in health and wellness that are actionable, unfair, and unjust. The course provides a learning environment from which to explore the root causes of inequity in the distribution of disease, illness, and death. 
Funded by the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health, its audience is primarily the local public health workforce. It seeks to ground participants in the concepts and strategies that could lead to effective action.

As part of the Roots of Health Inequity Learning Collaborative, participants are able to:

  • Explore social processes that produce health inequities in the distribution of disease and illness.
  • Strategize more effective ways to act on the root causes of health inequity.
  • Form relationships with other local health departments who are working to ensure health equity.

Originally launched in 2012, The Roots of Health Inequity began a redesign in 2022 with an expected launch date of Summer 2024.


The IK approach

Content Managed Site with Administrative Dashboard

The Roots of Health Inequity is a free, online course that anyone can enroll into. However, the vast majority of users come from local health departments as part of a group initiative. Group leaders will assign the course to their healthcare providers as part of a process improvement plan, or for continuing educational credits. To provide the level of administration and privacy needed, we created differing user permissions as well as user views. Group leaders can invite users to course, create groups, and assign roles and action items to members.

Detailed dashboards are available to every user, regardless of permission levels. Dashboards display vital information for users regarding their profile, groups, upcoming events and due dates, latest comments, completion percentage and where they left off.

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    Screenshot of the design for the new Roots of Health Inequity homepage

Content Strategy & User Experience

For the redesign, NACCHO enlisted subject matter experts as part of an Expert Advisory Group to assist in rewriting content, and adding new content pertinent to today’s healthcare professionals. We focused on delivering a thorough content strategy that resulted in content, that is well structured, and easily consumable by all levels of learners. Each unit tackles a theme, such as Class and Capitalism, and each Unit may contain several chapters–but often, the amount of text was still overwhelming. We broke the material into even smaller parts, giving learners the chance to return where they had left off. An estimated time to read each part allows learners to make informed decisions throughout the course.

Every unit begins with a Purpose and Overview section, Objectives, Term Definitions found throughout the content, and an introductory video giving users multiple ways to understand the material to be presented to them. Additional video found throughout the course help to explain the often complex subject matter, and offers multiple ways for users to consume course material. Interactive elements such as timelines also help to engage learners further. Course users can also choose to listen to the content as well through an audio component.

The overarching course objective is to generate debate among colleagues and pose questions that encourage innovative approaches to public health practice that tackle health inequities at their roots. We provided a commenting tool in each section for users to share their thoughts and engage with others in their group.

Every chapter is concluded with related course content and additional resources.

Fully Responsive and Compliant

The Roots of Health Inequity is a fully responsive module, allowing learners to access the course on what ever device they prefer. And the site is built with accessibility in mind and all elements conform to WCAG 2.1 Level AA guidelines.


The results

The audience consists of public health professionals across the country as well as undergraduate and graduate students studying in public health programs at universities in many states. Over 10,000 students have completed this curriculum since its launch in 2012. Currently being redesigned, the new Roots of Health Inequity is scheduled to relaunch in the Summer of 2024.