Social and Health Equity and Equality – The Need for a Scientific Framework
AbstractProblem: Studies on health/disease often use concepts such as equity/inequity, equality/inequality, and social justice. These terms are not always clearly and precisely defined, nor are they used with the same meaning by different authors. Objective: 1) To present and analyze the concepts used in the literature on living conditions, social justice, social and health equity and inequality, and 2) to offer a conceptual framework that allows these concepts to be used in a scientific manner. Methodology: Literature review and comparison of terms used in both general and specialist dictionaries, articles, and books. Results: Broad basic definitions of terms are presented. The approach used by Latin American Collective Health and Critical Epidemiology is based on understanding the social origins of equity/inequity and their visible manifestation in the determination of equality/inequality. Conclusion: There is little agreement on the conceptualization of these terms. The critical realism developed by Latin American Collective Health and Critical Epidemiology examines equity/inequity as a social process that generates equality/inequality and enables a scientific approach to the study of both concepts.