This post was written by Sarah McAfee, a former member of our team.
From an early age, we are all taught to solve complex problems in the same way: break them into manageable pieces. Be it word problems in math class or composing a Master’s thesis, all things seem possible when you feel like you can wrap your mind around the issue a small piece at a time.
Sometimes though, in reducing things to their simplest form, we lose sight of the interconnectedness of things and cannot see the forest for the trees. Here at CCMU, we’ve talked about this a lot as it relates to solving some of our stickiest health and health care issues across the state. The bottom line is that solely focusing our efforts on health policy, access to the health care system, or funding for health and health care will not fix every health inequity. Much of our health is defined by a complex set of social factors that go beyond the health care structure we have in place to address them.
Over the past year, we have discussed what CCMU could do to help Colorado explore these bigger picture connections. We pored over data to see what other defining aspects of our lives—where we live, our levels of educational attainment, our race, our income—were likely to affect our health. And now, we are proud to present the CCMU Health Connections Issue Brief Series.
In the spirit of breaking things down to manageable pieces, each brief demonstrates the connection between health and another aspect of our lives, such as education, race, or insurance status. What we found wasn’t new information, or even surprising information—hundreds or thousands of studies have shown the same relationships, time after time. Even our own common sense tells us to expect that those with more income or those who have insurance are generally healthier. However, seeing these connections so clearly in Colorado reminds us that we must find new ways to address health, educational attainment, economic prosperity, and racial equality concurrently if we are going to succeed at improving the health of all Coloradans.
We invite you to explore the issue brief series and think creatively with us about how we can work together to see the forest and the trees.
Download the first brief in the series: Health & Education (PDF)