Two professors at Sullivan Foundation partner school Mercer University’s medical school—Dr. Bryan Smalley and Dr. Jacob Warren—have authored a textbook that’s the first of its kind in academic lecture: “Health Equity: A Solutions-Focused Approach.”

Published by by Springer Publishing, the book covers the systemic issues impacting pursuit of health equity as a nation and the needs of a wide range of population groups. Rather than simply describing the existence of health disparities, the text focuses on how to develop innovative approaches to achieve health equity through evidence-based approaches, promising practices and a series of case studies.

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“The factors driving health equity are numerous and wide-ranging,” said Dr. Smalley, associate dean for research at Mercer University School of Medicine (MUSM). “As a result, solutions come from diverse fields such as public health, sociology, political science and psychology. We wanted to bring all of those fields together in a single text for students and practitioners alike.”

Health equity is the field of study focused on ensuring that all individuals have equal opportunity to achieve and maintain health. A number of groups across the United States—ranging from African-American populations to rural populations—face stark disparities in a number of health outcomes. The field of health equity seeks not only to understand why these disparities exist, but also to develop ways to end them.

“It is time for action to achieve health equity for all populations,” said Dr. Warren, associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion and the director of MUSM’s Center for Rural Health and Health Disparities, a National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence. “Our hope is that this book will help provide options and solutions for those engaged in this line of work.”

Dr. Smalley and Dr. Warren maintain an active line of health equity research focused on maternal and infant mortality, opioid overdose and chronic disease self-management, with nearly $7 million in active federal funding. They have worked extensively with communities to develop, implement and research the impact of health equity initiatives, including active work in 12 rural Georgia counties.

Mercer University’s School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia.

This story is an edited version of the original article appearing on the Mercer University website.

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