The need to deal with health inequalities is now on the agenda of key supranational institutions, such as the European Commission (EC). To tackle the so-called “causes of the causes of health inequity”, the focus should be put on structural policies, policies that – especially in the current times of financial and employment crisis – influence patterns of social stratification, living and working conditions, and thus people's health. The SOPHIE project aims to generate new evidence on the impact and effectiveness of structural policies in reducing health inequalities, and to develop innovative methodologies for the evaluation of these policies in Europe.
We will study major policy areas, including macro-economy, welfare state, labour market and employment relations, built environment, housing, as well as gender-oriented and immigration-related policies. Examples of these policies at the European, national and local levels will be examined, in addition to their impacts on health inequalities by social class, gender and migrant status. The project will develop theoretical frameworks as well as quantitative and qualitative methods for evaluating the effectiveness of such policies in different contexts. Novel methods that are useful for evaluating the impact of complex social interventions will be employed, including realist reviews, explanatory case studies and concept mapping. Particular attention will be given to increasing the involvement of affected stakeholders (civil society and deprived population groups) in the identification, design and evaluation of policies to tackle health inequalities. Affected communities and stakeholders will work with responsible policymakers in activities of dissemination of results, knowledge transfer and translation of findings into policy recommendations.
Through SOPHIE, the EC will gain knowledge on the impact on health and health inequalities of social and economic policies which may be implemented or recommended to Member States