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Healthy People Initiative 2030 vs. 2020


The Healthy People (HP) program envisions a healthier nation with a lower preventable disease burden. For decades, this initiative has guided federal efforts to prevent specific diseases and promote healthy behaviors. Priority health issues are first identified before formulating measurable objectives for preventing diseases and promoting health. Then, concerted efforts from diverse public and private stakeholders are solicited to implement the overarching goals. Data sources for measuring progress towards meeting HP goals primarily come from national censuses and health surveys. This paper analyzes the differences between HP 2030 and HP 2020 and the changes introduced in HP 2030’s leading health indicators. In addition, strategies for incorporating HP into the work of health educators are recommended.

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How Healthy People 2030 Differs From Healthy People 2020

Different fundamental ideas and goals of HP 2030 and HP 2020 are indicated in their respective frameworks. The HP 2020 initiative set four goals, which were attaining high-quality lives, eliminating health disparities, improving social and physical environments, and enhancing the quality of life (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020). HP 2030 includes one additional objective besides those contained in HP 2020 framework: engaging leaders and stakeholders in making health policy. The HP 2020 program monitored about 1,300 objectives grouped into 42 topics in healthcare (CDC, 2020). In contrast, HP 2030 focuses on fewer high-priority areas that are responsive to emerging health problems in the next ten years. At its launch, it comprised 510 objectives grouped into 355 core, 115 developmental, and 40 research aims (CDC, 2020). Thus, HP 2030 is more focused and rigorous than HP 2020 was.

Additionally, data-related criteria are used in selecting the core objectives of the two frameworks. In the HP 2030 initiative, these goals were picked based on national importance, existing evidence base, and health disparities and equity (CDC, 2020). In contrast, HP 2020 identified priority objectives using a specific framework that drew attention to the social determinants of health recommended by federal agencies. Tracking progress towards HP 2020 goals by the National Center for Health Statistics relied on 175 data sources compared to 81 for HP 2030 (CDC, 2020). The data used to monitor the set targets come from national census or health surveys.

HP 2030’s Leading Health Indicators

The HP 2030 Leading Health Indicators (LHIs) differ significantly from the past ones in three ways. First, the indicators are founded on the updated HP 2030 framework that prioritizes “health, equity, and well-being” (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [NASEM], 2020, p. 17). The current LHIs comprise measures related to the quality of life, including those contained in the HP 2020 initiative. They include not only indicators of health inequities between races, ethnicities, genders, and regions but also data on poverty and racism (NASEM, 2020). Socioeconomic inequalities and discrimination have been incorporated into the new LHI set, as they also contribute to health disparities among groups.

The second difference is the LHIs included in HP 2030 contain fewer health states than past programs. In this case, priority indicators considered are upstream factors that affect health outcomes. Unlike in the past, social determinants have been prioritized; hence, a smaller subset of health conditions are included in HP 2030. The third difference is that the current LHIs are not tied to the health care delivery system’s capacities and metrics like in the past (NASEM, 2020). As such, they reflect how Americans lead their lives in light of the existing policy framework, systems, and socioeconomic factors. Most of the LHIs, such as those touching on firearms-related deaths, suicide, and maternal mortality are framed in the context of social and economic realities in a region. Health improvement efforts that involve contextually based LHIs have the potential to improve population outcomes. Kelley, Fatupaito, and Witzel (2018) found that culturally-based prevention programs reduce substance abuse among American Indian youth. Involving diverse stakeholders, including tribal leaders, helps address the risk factors in the community.

The Healthy People initiative focuses on disease prevention and health promotion. Health educators can play a central role in addressing health disparities and the physical and psychological needs of people within their social, economic, and environmental contexts. The complex, multi-faceted nature of public health issues requires well-trained health educators to align community-based prevention efforts with Healthy People’s priority objectives. They are primarily responsible for assessing population needs, planning and implementing health promotion, and evaluating the success of education programs (National Commission for Health Education and Credentialing, Inc., 2015). These responsibilities are integral to disease prevention at the community level. Two strategies are recommended for incorporating Healthy People into the health educator’s work. First, they can lead health education efforts to promote healthier habits among people and communities. Second, health educators can be a useful source of quality data for tracking progress towards achieving HP 2030 objectives.


Healthy People seeks to ensure that people lead healthier, longer lives. Guided by predefined objectives, the initiative addresses health disparities by involving diverse stakeholders in the private and public sectors. Although HP 2020 differs in fundamental ways from the HP 2030 framework, it has been designed to address the health challenges in the next decade. It includes an updated LHI set that reflects the contextual factors at the individual and community levels.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Healthy People 2030. Web.

Kelley, A., Fatupaito, B., & Witzel, M. (2018). Is culturally based prevention effective? Results from a 3-year tribal substance prevention program. Evaluation and Program Planning, 71, 28-35.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2020). Leading health indicators 2030: Advancing health, equity, and well-being. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National Commission for Health Education and Credentialing, Inc. (2015). Responsibilities and competencies of health education specialists. Web.

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