Cocreating Evidence-Informed Health Equity Policy with Community

Sarah Cusworth Walker
Johnna White
Victor Rodriguez
Emily Turk
Noah Gubner
Betty Bekemeier
Case Example
June 2023
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A county health department, in collaboration with community-based organizations (CBOs), conducts community listening sessions to identify priorities for health equity policies.


Involving community members in the design of programs and policies is widely recognized as a key strategy to advance health equity. This article presents a case study for a robust and swiftly implemented community-based decision process for determining public health policy priorities.


The article details the approach taken by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department in Washington state, in collaboration with CBOs, to design and conduct listening sessions with community members from regions affected by health disparities. Participants in 15 listening sessions were presented with a list of 99 health equity-related policies compiled from an extensive literature review and landscape analysis. Led by community leaders, participants engaged in discussions and participatory ranking exercises to prioritize the identified policies. Facilitators reported high levels of participation and engagement among the over 200 listening session participants. The top three policy areas identified by participants — economic equity, housing affordability, and access to behavioral and physical health care — are currently being addressed in a follow-up phase of the study focused on policy co-design.


This case study presents a blueprint for participatory policymaking that integrates evidence-based approaches with community-led methods. The authors highlight the significance of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department's established relationships with CBOs in fostering broad engagement during the listening sessions. 

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