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Are health and well-being strategies in England fit for purpose? A thematic content analysis

27 Aug 2015

Background

Since 1 April 2013, local authority (LA) health and well-being boards (HWBs) in England are required to publish a health and well-being strategy (HWS). HWSs should identify how population health needs are to be addressed. The extent to which this has been achieved is not known. We analysed HWSs to assess how LAs have interpreted statutory guidance, how evidence has been used within HWSs and the relationship of HWSs to Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs).

Methods

Qualitative thematic content analysis of a random sample of one-third of upper tier LA HWSs in 2013–14.

Results

Fifty out of 152 LAs were sampled and 47 HWSs analysed. Strategies varied in timescale, length and structure. The term ‘evidence’ was used most commonly referring to local need, rather than evidence of effectiveness. All, except two, referred to JSNAs.

Conclusions

HWSs are dominated by evidence of need and could be strengthened by greater use of evidence of effectiveness for public health interventions. Public health agencies and academics can support the development of effective HWSs by improving the accessibility of evidence and conducting research when evidence is absent. To strengthen HWSs' impact, the statutory guidance should clarify the distinction between evidence of need and evidence of effectiveness.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Journal of Public Health