Optimizing Interventions for Equitability: Some Initial Ideas

Jillian C. Strayhorn, David J. Vanness, Linda M. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interventions (including behavioral, biobehavioral, biomedical, and social-structural interventions) hold tremendous potential not only to improve public health overall but also to reduce health disparities and promote health equity. In this study, we introduce one way in which interventions can be optimized for health equity in a principled fashion using the multiphase optimization strategy (MOST). Specifically, we define intervention equitability as the extent to which the health benefits provided by an intervention are distributed evenly versus concentrated among those who are already advantaged, and we suggest that, if intervention equitability is acknowledged to be a priority, then equitability should be a key criterion that is balanced with other criteria (effectiveness overall, as well as affordability, scalability, and/or efficiency) in intervention optimization. Using a hypothetical case study and simulated data, we show how MOST can be applied to achieve a strategic balance that incorporates equitability. We also show how the composition of an optimized intervention can differ when equitability is considered versus when it is not. We conclude with a vision for next steps to build on this initial foray into optimizing interventions for equitability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-396
Number of pages13
JournalPrevention Science
Issue numberSuppl 3
StatePublished - Jul 2024


  • Health equity
  • Intervention optimization
  • Multiphase optimization strategy
  • Value efficiency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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