The NIHR public health research programme: intervention approaches to tackle health inequalities

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The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research (PHR) Programme evaluates interventions intended to improve the health of the public and reduce inequalities in health in the UK. The aim of the research was to establish how projects funded by the PHR Programme between 2009 and 2014 addressed health inequalities.


A health inequalities intervention framework developed by Bambra et al. was used to map PHR funded studies to a typology. The framework is based on interventions that are characterized by their level of action and their approach to tackling inequalities.


A total of 57 primary research projects funded by the PHR Programme were categorized using the framework; 16 PHR research projects were classified as strengthening individuals, 24 strengthening communities, 15 improving living and school/work conditions and 2 promoting healthy macro policies. Eighteen were classified as targeted interventions whereas 39 were universal.


Mapping the interventions being evaluated by the PHR Programme to a typology differentiated health inequality interventions and illustrates how they are expected to have an impact. Emerging findings will contribute to the evidence base for addressing health inequalities to inform research and future commissioning of public health services.

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