Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Christopher B. Jones


Georgia’s racial and ethnic minority communities have a continual problem of disproportionately worse health outcomes, including higher chronic disease and behavioral risk factors, compared to their nonminority counterparts. The average cost per year for chronic disease between 2016 and 2030 could be $64.6 billion in medical costs and $26.8 billion in lost employee productivity for Georgia. The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experience of Georgia legislators and health program staff to determine policy solutions to reduce chronic disease and behavioral risk factor disparities in the racial and ethnic minority population. The theoretical lens for the study was Habermas’s theory of communicative action that advocates public dialogue for determining optimal actions to overcome social oppression. This study may contribute to continued public dialogue on the pursuit of legislation and program policies to eliminate racial and ethnic minority health disparities. Data collection took place through qualitative online surveys and semi-structured interviews with 11 legislative and health department program participants. For analysis, structural and thematic codes were determined from participant interview transcripts. Findings indicate a need for appropriate state legislative policies to support health improvement, and the ability to address the social determinants of health through health programs exists at various levels. Since initiating the inquiry, the Georgia General Assembly allocated additional funding that could impact the social determinants of health. Participants also expressed the need for additional funding based on their lived experience working towards health equity for racial and ethnic minority Georgians.