The Importance of Context: evidence, values and assumptions in public health policy seminar: In Stockton-on-Tees, the difference in male life expectancy at birth between the most and least deprived areas is 17 years – the highest in England. This reflects a larger pattern in which health inequalities are increasing in parallel with the rise of economic inequality, and despite stated policy commitments to reducing them. Review of current policies suggests that the application and interpretation of research evidence in public health policy relies on questionable assumptions about a high degree of choice and control over lifestyle, income, and quotidian living/working environment. Rich and poor live in different ‘epidemiological worlds’, and some have far more control over those worlds than others. Against this background, what forms of evidence, disciplinary perspectives and research methodologies are most relevant for the design of policies to reduce health inequalities?
I am writing on behalf of Linda McKie (Professor and Head of School, School of Applied Social Science, Durham University), Nancy Cartwright (Professor of Philosophy, Durham University) and myself to invite you to an interactive workshop on 2 December, 2015 on Evidence, Values and Assumptions in Public Health Policy. The seminar is part of the 2015-16 activity theme (‘Evidence’) of Durham’s Institute of Advance Study, and of the activities of an ESRC-supported seminar series on Revitalising the Health Equity Agenda. Key contributors:
- Dr. Katherine Smith (Reader, Global Public Health Unit, University of Edinburgh; author, Beyond Evidence Based Policy in Public Health: The Interplay of Ideas; winner of a 2014 Philip Leverhulme Prize for outstanding early career achievements in social policy), on the diverse journeys that characterise the movement of evidence and ideas about health inequalities into public health policy;
- Prof. Ted Schrecker (Professor of Global Health Policy, Durham University; co-author, How Politics Makes Us Sick: Neoliberal Epidemics) on how the treatment of evidence, values and assumptions in environmental health policy sheds light on the question of how much evidence is enough to act on socioeconomic inequalities that drive health inequalities (the standard of proof question).
The seminar will be held at the Institute of Advanced Study seminar room, Palace Green, Durham on Wednesday, 2 December with coffee at 14:00; the seminar will run from 14:30 to 17:00. In order to maximise opportunities for interaction and developing an agenda for future activities, we will be distributing background materials and a discussion guide in advance of the seminar.