“Conceptual Approaches to Examining Health Inequities” by Rakhal Gaitonde

Abstract This chapter maps key conceptual frameworks in the study of health inequities. Using the dominant approach in the public health literature termed the risk factor approach as a reference point; the chapter highlights the key critiques of this approach. These key critiques include the differentiation between the causes of disease and the causes of causes, the demand to move from demonstrating associations to exploring and defining mechanisms and a critical interrogation of the labels being used. Through a mapping of various frameworks drawn from diverse fields, the chapter presents conceptual approaches which contribute to the filling of these critical gaps in the mainstream public health literature. The chapter ends by identifying the recently articulated frameworks like the ecosocial theory and the intersectionality lens as having attempted to engage with health inequities in a more nuanced fashion and with more depth, and as representing the best conceptual theories we have presently to research this area. We ask in the review and critique that forms the core chapters of the book, how this literature and these frameworks have informed the research being reviewed? We also ask how these insights can help make newer sense by reading across the research in an attempt to delineate what the present literature implies about possible mechanisms as well as gaps in research.

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