Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who can use this Index?

Anyone can use this Index—community members, practitioners or policy makers. This Index shows you the health culture in West Michigan.

2. What are the purposes of this Index?
  • Informs you of health equity issues and disparities in West Michigan.
  • Helps you better understand health equity as it relates to you.
  • Provides you with recommendations to address health equity issues.
  • Encourages you to be more active in your community.
  • Brings more attention to health equity issues to draw support and resources.
3. What are the recommendations?

They are proven or desired actions to prevent, manage or treat an illness.  These recommendations also include policies and programs that can hep you.  See recommendations.

4. What is health equity?

It is the practice of providing everyone, especially those with the fewest resources and greatest health disparities such as Blacks, with enough opportunities, resources and support to achieve optimal levels of health.

5. What are social determinants of health?

They are factors or conditions (e.g., where you live, your job status, your health insurance status) that affect your overall health.  They are, usually, not directly related to your health.  See GRAAHI's social determinants of health.

6. What is GRAAHI?

GRAAHI stands for the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute. It is a non-profit health organization focused on improving health equity for Blacks and other groups who need the most help. Visit GRAAHI's web site.  

7. Who is GAIL?

GAIL stands for GRAAHI’s Artificially Intelligent Liaison. She is a virtual assistant that was programmed to answer your questions about this Index. If you ask GAIL a question, she'll speak and type the answer back to you. Click GAIL's picture on each page to speak with her.

8. What is an avatar?

It is an animated person who understands the meaning of health equity. Each avatar has their own health equity story to share. 

9. How were the health topics chosen for this Index?

If national, state and county-level data were available for a health topic no later than 2010, that health topic was included in this Index.   

10. What rationale was used to categorize indicators as either a health outcome, health behavior or social determinant of health?
  • An indicator was classified as a health outcome, if it is a chronic illness or condition that usually requires medical attention or treatment. It cannot be performed.
  • An indicator was classified as a health behavior, if it is a health action or practice that can be performed.
  • An indicator was classified as a social determinant of health, if it is a condition or circumstance that influences people’s health in more indirect ways. It is not directly health-related.
11. Why do some indicators lack disparity data?

Data sources do not always capture data by race at the county level.  When they do obtain race data, the numbers are (sometimes) too small to be accurate.  In Kent County, Michigan, we found race data for 26 of the 52 indicators.  See disparities.

12. Why is disparity data limited for Hispanics and Asians?

In Kent County, Michigan, the numbers for Hispanics and Asians were (sometimes) too small to provide accurate rates.  See disparities.

13. What is a logic model?

Our logic models are visual expressions of this Index and its concepts and indicators.  See GRAAHI's logic models.