Qualitative protocol for understanding the contribution of Australian policy in the urban planning, justice, energy and environment sectors to promoting health and health equity
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Introduction: A well-established body of literature demonstrates that health and equity are strongly influenced by the consequences of governments’ policy and resultant actions (or inactions) outside the health sector. Consequently, the United Nations, and its agency the WHO, have called for national leadership and whole-of-government action to understand and address the health impacts of policies in all sectors. This research responds to that call by investigating how policymaking in four sectors—urban planning, justice, energy and environment—may influence the social determinants of health and health equity (SDH/HE). Methods and analysis: The research design is informed by a critical qualitative approach. Three successive stages are included in the design. The first involves analysing all strategic policy documents and selected legislative documents from the four sectors (n=583). The document analysis is based on a coding framework developed to identify alignment between the documents and the SDH/HE. Two policies that demonstrate good practice in regard to SDH/HE will be selected from each sector during the second stage for embedded case study analysis (total n=8). This is intended to illuminate which factors have supported recognition and action on SDH/HE in the selected policies. The third stage involves progressive theoretical integration and development to understand political and institutional facilitators and barriers to action on SDH/HE, both within and between sectors. Ethics and dissemination: The research will provide much needed evidence about how coherent whole-of-government action on SDH/HE can be advanced and contribute knowledge about how health-enhancing policy activity in the four sectors may be optimised. Learnings from the research will be shared via a project advisory group, policy briefings, academic papers, conference presentations and research symposia. Ethics approval has been secured for the embedded case studies, which involve research participants.
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