The Citizens’ Jury in Manchester took place on Monday 11th July and Tuesday 12th July in Manchester Central Library.  At this meeting, jury members raised various questions that we weren’t able to answer in full so, as promised, we are responding to these questions on the project website. The questions raised were:

  1. What is the relationship between health inequalities and mental health and why isn’t there more of a focus on mental health?

There is a strong relationship between mental health and health inequalities as this  Samaritans report summarises.

2. There was a question about how communities care for older people and how this fits in with health inequalities.

This short report from researchers at Birmingham University summarises some of the evidence on health inequalities and older people and this report from the King’s Fund focuses on the role of care.

3. Is there any evidence than education about healthier choices or preventing unhealthy things from being advertised has contributed to a drop in heart disease in deprived areas?

This recent systematic review of evidence on interventions intended to promote healthy eating demonstrates a wider trend in health inequalities research in which ‘downstream’ health information campaigns have some effect but are much more effective in affluent populations and, therefore, tend to widen health inequalities. In contrast, ‘upstream’ policies, particularly those related to price, work to decrease health inequalities. For more general findings in this area, there is a good article in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health but you can probably only see the abstract (short summary) as it is behind a paywall – if you want a full copy of this article, please email Kat who can send you a copy.

4. Someone asked a question about the access that people living in deprived areas have to healthy food.

This is a much debated topic in health research with different studies, reaching different conclusions. A recent article in The Guardian argues that urban ‘health food deserts’ exist in the UK.

5. What have governments tried when it comes to tackling health inequalities and has had anything had an impact?

This article tries to assess the impact of Thatcher’s government policies on health inequalities. This article Divergence or convergence Health inequalities and policy in a devolved Britain — Smith et al_ 29 (2) 216 — Critical Social Policy looks at government efforts to reduce health inequalities in the UK from 1997-2010.