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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

Curtis, S. How can we address Health inequality through healthy public policy in Europe? European Urban and Regional Studies. 2008;15:293-305.

Author(s) from Durham


In many parts of the world, there is growing commitment to the idea that public policy and public interventions in all domains (not only the medical and public health sector) should be scrutinized in terms of their potential impact on public health for the populations affected. Prospective Health Impact Assessment (HIA) considers the likely significance of these potential public health outcomes. This article considers some examples of strategies which are being used in European countries to facilitate HIA. These are interpreted in terms of theories of a world risk society, put forward by Ulrich Beck. The application of HIA to promote healthy public policy is complex because it crosses professional, disciplinary and geographical borders and involves some challenging issues of knowledge translation and social construction of environmental risks. It therefore shares some characteristics with other forms of regional planning for sustainable development.This article considers the relevance of literature from regional science concerning the appropriate scale and type of agency to handle complex regional planning issues and how to create learning regions that successfully integrate new knowledge into regional policy. HIA also poses some broader general questions about the role of science in society.This article considers the implications for the communication of research findings on health risk, and the contribution of geography and regional science to interdisciplinary research in this field.

Department of Geography