The 7th annual European Public Health (EPH) Conference entitled “Mind the gap: Reducing inequalities in health and health care” took place in Glasgow, Scotland from 19 to 22 November 2014.
DRIVERS participated in several pre-conference sessions, during which project partners presented some key findings of the project and discussed the role of effective advocacy in realising health equity goals.
A session titled “How to tackle health inequalities? Results from four EU-funded projects” saw Prof Olle Lundberg (CHESS) illustrate the limitations of a welfare regime approach to studying social protection and health inequalities. It also saw Dr Hynek Pikhart (UCL) underline methodological and conceptual challenges in the harmonisation of inequality-relevant indicators across Europe.
Dr Claudia Marinetti (EuroHealthNet) gave an overview of the role of advocacy in reducing health inequalities. She emphasised the value of different kinds of evidence in advocacy efforts, in contrast to the well-known ‘hierarchy of evidence’, and the use of different types of advocacy messages.
In a poster walk dedicated to evidence-informed policy, Linden Farrer (EuroHealthNet) presented results from DRIVERS on improving the effectiveness of advocacy for health equity. He stated that it is important for evidence to find its way into policy processes, but doing so requires specific methods of knowledge transfer and translation. As scientists are not always willing or able to advocate, knowledge brokering organisations such as EuroHealthNet can play an extremely important role in facilitating this process.
One of DRIVERS’ aims is to identify solutions to reducing health inequalities through policy and practice in early childhood development. Joana Morrison (UCL) presented a review of early childhood interventions in several European countries conducted over the last two decades with the aim of addressing health and early development. One of the findings is that interventions with better outcomes appear to combine educational activities for both parents and children beginning in early pregnancy and include home visits by specialised staff.
DRIVERS also featured in a packed plenary session on tackling health inequalities organised by EuroHealthNet. The session included a discussion on presenting policy recommendations to policy makers from four EU-funded projects (DEMETRIQ, DRIVERS, SILNE, SOPHIE), all aiming to generate new evidence on the best ways of tackling health inequalities.
On behalf of the DRIVERS team, Prof Johannes Siegrist emphasised that public spending should strengthen sustainable employment and address health-adverse working conditions, particularly among lower socio-economic groups. Indeed, he noted that “DRIVERS has demonstrated a social gradient in risk of suffering from work stress, with lower occupational groups facing the greatest risks of psycho-social stress”.
All in all, the EPH conference was an excellent opportunity to disseminate new evidence arising from the DRIVERS project to public health researchers, policy makers, practitioners and health professionals.
If you missed DRIVERS at the EPH conference then please visit our Storify page (see below), which summarises the key events through the tweets that were produced throughout the course of the Pre-conference.
You can find the joint DRIVERS and EuroHealthNet news release issued at the start of the EPH Pre-Conference here.
You can also find the DRIVERS presentations and poster here.