Aim:Whilst considerable attention has been paid to describing and measuring health inequalities, relatively little attention has been paid to ways to effectively reduce health inequalities within and among populations. This paper presents a conceptual framework for capacity building to assist stakeholders at the regional level within Europe to maximise the potential of healthy public policies and practices to reduce these inequalities, as a core part of strategic action plans to access European Structural Funds. Subject and Methods:Within the ACTION-FOR-HEALTH (A4H) project co-funded by the European Commission (EC), a conceptual framework for capacity building to reduce health inequalities was developed and evaluated. The evaluation design adopted mixed methods involving a series of focus groups (n=22), interviews (n=14) and questionnaires (n=34) involving the project partners. Results:We present the A4H conceptual framework that is based on a series of capacity building actions comprising three key areas: (1) developing knowledge and skills; (2) building partnerships, and; (3) creating action plans. The evaluation data shows that the project contributed to enhancing capacities in all three of these areas, at the regional, organisational, and individual levels. Conclusion: Focusing mostly on building capacities, the A4H project has the potential to have several sustainable outcomes. Our results underscore the importance of the capacity building approach for the reduction of health inequalities in Europe.
Bibliographical noteThe final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10389-015-0699-y
- Health inequalities
- capacity building
- health promotion
- structural funds