Inequalities in health outcomes and how they might be addressed

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Children and Young People's Health Outcomes Forum
Department of Health
Date of publication
1 June 2012
Health Services, Children and Young People
Social welfare
Material type

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Considerable variations exist in both health service outcomes for children, and it follows, their whole‑of‑life‑course outcomes. Variations become inequitable if individuals or groups in a population of community are denied fair access to either determinants of health or lifestyles or services which could improve their life chances and outcomes.

Many children today still do not have access to ‘three square meals a day’ (meaning an adequate diet), a warm coat/new shoes or a quiet place to do their homework. Society must make a commitment to improve the life chances of children by addressing these underlying problems. The approach should be not only to protect children from hazards, known to have a negative impact on health and well‑being, but also promote exposure to positive experiences which enhance assets and resilience. Children in families where mental health problems, substance misuse, learning difficulties and domestic violence are particularly at risk, and specific evidence‑based preventive programmes should be implemented to address these issues and enable children and young people to have a secure and nurturing home.

Health services should be aware of these adverse determinants of lifestyles, and tailor the delivery of services to both mitigate against their adverse effects, for example the proven financial impact of a long‑term condition or a disability, as well as building on positive aspects to improve outcomes. An example would be positive support for involving extended family and/or community members to support the family