Advancing tools to promote health equity across European Union regions: The EURO-HEALTHY project

on behalf of the EURO-HEALTHY investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Population health measurements are recognised as appropriate tools to support public health monitoring. Yet, there is still a lack of tools that offer a basis for policy appraisal and for foreseeing impacts on health equity. In the context of persistent regional inequalities, it is critical to ascertain which regions are performing best, which factors might shape future health outcomes and where there is room for improvement. Methods: Under the EURO-HEALTHY project, tools combining the technical elements of multi-criteria value models and the social elements of participatory processes were developed to measure health in multiple dimensions and to inform policies. The flagship tool is the Population Health Index (PHI), a multidimensional measure that evaluates health from the lens of equity in health determinants and health outcomes, further divided into sub-indices. Foresight tools for policy analysis were also developed, namely: (1) scenarios of future patterns of population health in Europe in 2030, combining group elicitation with the Extreme-World method and (2) a multi-criteria evaluation framework informing policy appraisal (case study of Lisbon). Finally, a WebGIS was built to map and communicate the results to wider audiences. Results: The Population Health Index was applied to all European Union (EU) regions, indicating which regions are lagging behind and where investments are most needed to close the health gap. Three scenarios for 2030 were produced - (1) the 'Failing Europe' scenario (worst case/increasing inequalities), (2) the 'Sustainable Prosperity' scenario (best case/decreasing inequalities) and (3) the 'Being Stuck' scenario (the EU and Member States maintain the status quo). Finally, the policy appraisal exercise conducted in Lisbon illustrates which policies have higher potential to improve health and how their feasibility can change according to different scenarios. Conclusions: The article makes a theoretical and practical contribution to the field of population health. Theoretically, it contributes to the conceptualisation of health in a broader sense by advancing a model able to integrate multiple aspects of health, including health outcomes and multisectoral determinants. Empirically, the model and tools are closely tied to what is measurable when using the EU context but offering opportunities to be upscaled to other settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalHealth Research Policy and Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2020


  • European Union regions
  • Foresight
  • Geographic inequalities
  • Health equity
  • Participatory approach
  • Policy evaluation
  • Population Health Index
  • Scenarios
  • WebGIS


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