Oregon’s new State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) is attempting to tackle the social factors that contribute to your health, such as childhood trauma, food security and living-wage jobs. The steering committee in charge of developing the SHIP for 2020-2024 has outlined the plan’s priorities.


Institutional bias

Institutional bias is the systematic distribution of power, opportunity and resources to the benefit of that are white. It excludes people of color, people with low income, the LGBTQ population, and those with disabilities. This type of bias has a significant effect on someone’s health.


Adversity, trauma and toxic stress

This includes abuse, neglect, incarceration, living in poverty, family separation, and exposure to discrimination and racism. These types of experiences have a long-term effect on your health and can lead to other conditions such as substance abuse, suicide and certain types of cancer.


Economic drivers of health, like housing, food insecurity, living wage and transportation

People living in poverty often have poor health. Though the economy in Oregon is growing, many still struggle to get out of poverty because of the high cost of living and raising a family. Those who live in poverty have higher rates of premature death, food insecurity, homelessness and mental distress.


Access to equitable preventative health care

Though more people now are insured than have been in the past, many still face challenges when trying to get care, such as provider shortages, health care costs, and transportation barriers. Some also feel uncomfortable visiting their doctor because of language or cultural differences.


Behavioral health, including substance use and mental health

In the country, Oregon is one of the states with the highest mental illness rates. Tobacco use is the first leading cause of death, and substance use is the third leading cause. Mental distress often leads to a lower quality of life and an increased suicide rate.


In 2011, Oregon ranked as the eighth healthiest state. In 2018, it jumped down to 21st, the largest decrease in the country. This list of priorities set forth by the committee represents where the state needs to focus its attention to improve its health ranking. The areas were picked from a list of health problems that were identified in the 2018 State Health Assessment.


Soon, subcommittees of the PartnerSHIP steering committee will begin meeting to identify what strategies and metrics can be used to measure progress made by the state. Strategies will need to address what changes will need to be made in policies, systems and environments. It may also include recommendations such as paid family leave, implicit training bias and increasing the cost of alcohol.