A Systematic Review of the Effectiveness of Locational Interventions to Reduce Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health

Staff involved: Fran Baum, Lisel O'Dwyer, Colin MacDougall and Anne Kavanagh

This project commenced in 2002 and is based on the link between socioeconomic status and health. Socioeconomic status tends to be expressed spatially (i.e. has a locational or areal dimension, and geographic distribution). In addition to the socioeconomic profile as a key compositional factor of a location, locations also have contextual factors (such as the nature of the physical environment and the facilities within an area). It follows therefore that socioeconomic inequalities in health can be addressed by taking a locational approach to interventions. Such interventions may focus on either the contextual or compositional factors in an area or location, or both. The literature review aimed to identify, appraise and report on locational interventions to reduce socioeconomic inequities in health that have been formally evaluated.

This project has also made substantial progress. We plan to have it completed before the end of the year. However, the diverse range of literature which has been located on this subject has been difficult to reconcile with the formal boundaries dictated by the systematic review format. We have therefore decided to construct a typology of the different ways the concept of "location" or "area" has been used in evaluations of interventions aimed at reducing health inequalities and discuss our findings in the form of the more traditional narrative review.