Health equity

  1. Context
  2. Research goals
  3. Research objectives
  4. Questions
  5. Research methodology
  6. Recruitment criteria and process
  7. Sample questions
  8. Analysis and synthesis process
  9. Next steps
  10. Documents


The Equity page is intended to highlight the disparities in COVID-19 so they can be focused on and addressed. This is part of a greater initiative to spur counties to demonstrate that they’re using their funding to support the communities most impacted.

Research goals

We soft-launched the equity page. We wanted to take an opportunity to learn more about the visitors’ familiarity with health equity as a topic and assess their understanding of the data visualizations.

Research objective

  • Understand our visitors ability and familiarity with the topic
  • Assess the visitors’ understanding of the data visualizations
  • Assess the usability of the page

Research questions

  • Who visits this page?
  • What do they expect to find on this page?
  • How do they navigate the page?
  • What core message do they get out of the page?
  • What sections are relevant to each audience?
  • How do they understand and explain the content of the data visualizations?

Research methodology

For this project, we decided on two different methods:

  • Intercepted 87 visitors and learnt from their experience as they navigate the page
  • Performed 5 usability testing sessions with people with diverse background and familiarity with the topic of health equity

Recruitment criteria

Some of our recruitment criteria were:

  • Different familiarity and background with health equity
  • Different profficiency in the use of technology

We used the following tools for recruitment:

  • Ethnio intercepts
  • Friends & family for usability testing sessions


Ethnio intercept questions

  1. Why did you visit California’s commitment to health equity page?
    a. How familiar are you with the issue of health equity?
    b. Not at all familiar
    c. Somewhat familiar
    d. Very familiar
  2. Based on what you’ve read, what do you take away from this page?
  3. Is there other information you want to see on this page?
    a. No
    b. Yes (we’d like to know what it is)
  4. What do you intend to do with this information? (Select all that apply.)
    a. Share it with colleagues and friends
    b. Read more about health and equity
    c. Digest it and come back later
    d. Contact a community based organization to collaborate with them
    e. Contact my local officials to learn more about what’s being done in my county and/or city
    f. Not much else
    g. Other (if you’d like to share, feel free)
  5. Which best describes you?
    a. I work for a city or county government
    b. I am policymaker with a city or county government
    c. I’m a member of the public
    d. I work for a data provider (like a health system or a lab)
    e. I’m a member of the press
    f. Other
  6. With which community do you identify? (This question is optional and you can select as many as apply)
    a. White
    b. Black or African American
    c. American Indian or Alaska Native
    d. Asian
    e. Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander
    f. Hispanic or Latino
    g. Another community

Analysis and synthesis

We reviewed the data from the intercepts and the usability testing sessions and created a document and presentation with the findings from both methods. We also created a spreadsheet with findings, hyphotesis, and recommendations.

Matrix of potential issues

We identified two segments of users with different prior knowledge, abilities and overall expectations.

  1. For the people who are familiar with the topic, this page is a great attempt but it falls short. This group wants more data that they could use to perform their own analysis.
  2. For people who are not familiar with the issue, this page is quite sophisticated and almost too advanced. The first two sections seem enough for a first attempt to learn about the issue and a great introduction to inequalities around race and ethnicity. This group is looking for more educational resources and a guided experience.

Matrix of message, motivations, and recommendations by audience segments

Next steps

There are two possible approaches to our segmented audience:

  1. Design for all: present the same information in different ways to provide different perspectives in understanding and interpreting information. This approach satisfies the needs of audiences with different prior knowledge and experiences. It meets people where they are.
  2. Design for one specific audience by delivering information to satisfy their specific needs.

We recommend making information understandable for all audiences and evaluating each segment’s success and iterating until the page content reaches an acceptable level of understanding. In the short term, we can make raw data accessible to people who are more familiar with the topic. This allows them to use it for research or analysis. This empowers these users and strenghthen our transparency.


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