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FOR Equity Thermometer & Screening Tool – The story

In this blog Dr Katerina Panagaki talks about the development of the FOR Equity Thermometer and Screening tool. Two new resources that can help teams and organizations assess their equity sensitivity and track their equity journey.

The aim:
to mainstream equity in health research. In other words, to support those who conduct health research do so whilst taking into consideration health inequities.

Because conducting health research through an equity lens ensures it is applied research (i.e. responding to real community needs), it is implementation research (i.e. able to be effectively implemented in practice), and it is impactful. We have been measuring health inequalities for a long time, but we are yet to reduce them. Why is that?

From understanding the concepts of health equity and intersectionality to applying them in practice can be a journey and that is where the FOR Equity Thermometer and Screening Tool come in….

Backstage snippets:

The Health Equity Mainstreaming Strategy (HEMS) Public Advisors (PAs) Group led by Dr. Katerina Panagaki was getting inundated with requests for support and the dialogue often went something like…

– Your group’s work sounds really interesting and we could definitely use your help!
– Of course! What with exactly? How could we help?
– We are not sure… with health inequalities?

And it made practical sense. A person or an organisation cannot know what they don’t know, which means they cannot clearly communicate their needs nor are they able to explore adequate options for support. Challenge accepted!

The HEMS PAs Group got to brainstorming. How could we make that equity journey visible in an uncomplicated and non-complex way, such that everyone would be able to ‘drop a pin’ on their current place on the map, grasp the direction and mode of travel, and be able to plan accordingly?

The development from pathway to temperature taking:
First up was a pathway with steppingstones which turned into a ‘golden pathway to equity’ before switching to a thermometer. But even then, we were far from done debating. What is more desirable, for one be ‘equity cool’ or ‘equity hot’? The thermometer was turned upside down and vice versa at least six times. We agreed there will always be someone for whom it would instinctively make more sense if it was the other way round (we are sorry if you are one of them). However, this doesn’t negate the intention and wider aim of the tool: to be self-explanatory in both its function and content and so we agreed to go full steam ahead. The content, i.e. the number of levels/temperatures/colours included was a journey of its own. We would leave meetings thinking we finally had it, but each time, when we got back to it and tested it out in practice, we kept making more amendments. We still are… barely released and notes for V2.0 are growing (speaking of… we would be thrilled to hear your feedback after you use the thermometer and/or screening tool and will keep adding to that list).

The brainstorming and idea developing took a few months, while tweaking and working on the digitized version of the Screening Tool required even longer. Throughout this process we shared our thoughts and prototypes with colleagues, in workshops (e.g. at ARCFest), and took advantage of every opportunity to gather feedback (we are so grateful for every single comment we received, thank you to all who chipped in!). A coproduction while later we are thrilled to see the FOR Equity Thermometer and Screening tool go live for you all to access, use and take apart as most useful for you.

FOR Equity Thermometer:

Not much to say because we hope it is self-explanatory, right?! Start from the red bottom working your way upwards to purple, but you can only move to the next level if you (your team/organization) really fulfill the previous one. Have you figured out where you are at? (Is that a realistic scoring or have you been too generous?) Great! Now start thinking what would be required to retain that long-term and how the next level will be reached.

FOR Equity Screening Tool:
You can work out your FOR Equity temperature on your own, or you can answer just 8 questions that measure your equity temperature for you. The Screening Tool allows you to save your results for multiple teams/projects and revisit them in a way of tracking progress.

And then what?

As mentioned, these resources were developed in response to requests for help. If you have found out your equity temperature but are not confident about it or you are uncertain how to proceed, please reach out to us. We will work with you to develop a tailored support package based on your team’s/organisation’s needs. Maybe some training in basic concepts would be of help or working out your own version of a HEMS strategy would be more appropriate? Let’s get talking.

Bonus for organisations with websites or intranets:

If you found the FOR Equity screening tool helpful and would like to make it available through your website or intranet, we just might be able to make that happen.

Where to now?
Head to to access the FOR Equity Thermometer and Screening Tool.

Have questions or feedback for us?
Good or bad we want to hear it all so that we can amend our offer and support you in conducting equity sensitive health research the best way we can. Option one: get in touch with Katerina and/or option two: help bring health equity matters in the foreground for more by sharing your thoughts or queries in X (former Twitter) with #ImplementEquity.


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