Back New paper: Why and how has the United Kingdom become a high producer of health inequalities research over the past 50 years? A realist explanatory case study
New paper: Why and how has the United Kingdom become a high producer of health inequalities research over the past 50 years? A realist explanatory case study
The paper, published in the Health Research Policy and Systems Journal, aims to understand why and how the United Kingdom has been able to generate a large amount of research on health inequalities, and what mechanisms may have been implicated in generating this research capacity.
“Research on health inequalities [HI] is essential to be able to assess the characteristics and trends of HI and to establish their causes and can be used to inform the design and implementation of policy interventions aiming to reduce HI in different settings.”
For researchers Lucinda Cash-Gibson, Eliana Martínez-Herrera and Joan Benach, the production of HI research at the local, national and global levels is key for understanding and working towards eliminating HI. However, this capacity does not exist worldwide, and concerted efforts are still needed, despite the notable global efforts to build up such capacities.
A recent study of the global HI scientific production (Cash-Gibson et al., 2018) identified large global inequalities concerning the research production in this field and found that the United Kingdom is the second-highest global contributor to the HI research field, after the United States. For the authors of this paper, this issue raises several questions: why and how are some countries able to produce more research on this topic than others, and what types of mechanisms have contributed to this research production? Why and how has the United Kingdom been able to produce such a large volume of HI research during the last 50 years? Which key determinants and causal mechanisms might have been involved in generating this strong national HI research production and capacity over time?
To answer these questions the authors conducted a realist explanatory case study, which included interviews and tested six theoretical mechanisms that they considered might have been involved in the process. The methodology was designed to generate knowledge about which mechanisms were at play in the United Kingdom and how it became a high HI research producer.
For the authors, important learnings can be derived from the United Kingdom’s experience of generating a high volume of HI research. The findings from this research can encourage more explanatory case studies that explore the HI research processes around the world, with the intention of enabling and activating the mechanisms that contribute to HI research production. “Strengthening HI research capacities in different countries is essential for the ability to develop new locally relevant research ideas and evidence, which are needed to inform innovative action that aims to tackle HI and improve health for all.”
The full article can be accessed here.