Research finds economic sector disinterested in reports about social and health inequalities

Feb 03, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- A report just published by the World Health Organisation from a public health researcher at the University of Otago, Wellington shows that while New Zealand has developed innovative annual Social Reports, these have had varied uptake in addressing health inequities over the last decade.

The report headed by Frank Pega examines how well and civil society have utilised and applied information on social indicators and inequalities gathered by the Ministry of Social Development’s annual Social Reports.

The study found that although the Ministries of and Social Development made good use of the Reports into social wellbeing to improve the social determinants of health and reduce health inequities, other government departments often did not.

This was particularly so with Treasury and agencies concerned with national policies relating to economic development.

“Our investigation found this limited the overall impact of the Social Reports in reducing those factors which drive health inequities between Māori and non-Māori, and different socio-economic groups in New Zealand,” says Mr Pega. “To some extent the impact of the Social Reports suffered because of this.”

The report points out that outside the government sector the Reports did have considerable impact, especially amongst health advocates, service providers, Māori organisations, academics and the media. However it appears that there was little impact on the business sector.

“Economic theory and empirical evidence suggest that health inequalities can constrain economic development, so it is surprising that budgetary and economic development departments, and the commercial sector, didn’t make better use of the Social Reports for strategic planning, policy development and decision-making,” Mr Pega says.

“Many key-informants we interviewed expected the economic sector to consider and be guided by the findings of the Social Reports.”

The idea behind social reporting is that all relevant sectors need to be involved to effectively address complex issues. Tackling New Zealand’s wide ethnic inequalities in obesity, for example, requires changes from the commercial food sector, and public ‘education’ through the health sector.

”A multiplicity of social factors influence the health of New Zealanders, and this underlines the importance of acting on an annual report card of social indicators which determine our health status,” he says.

Explore further: Digital native fallacy: Teachers still know better when it comes to using technology

Provided by University of Otago

5 /5 (3 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New report calls for family-security insurance

Dec 06, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at Berkeley Law and Georgetown Law have released a blueprint for a national insurance program -- which would replace wages when people need to take time off for health and care-giving. ...

The stress of work becomes social issue

Nov 01, 2010

The sharp rise in work stress in Britain is becoming a major social problem in the current economic crisis, a new British Academy report has found.

Study finds sick kids have fewer friends

Dec 07, 2010

A new study reveals that sick teens are more isolated than other kids, but they do not necessarily realize it and often think their friendships are stronger than they actually are.

Depressed men struggle more than depressed women

Dec 08, 2010

A new wide-ranging study by the University of Otago, Wellington has shown that men with common mental disorders, such as depression or anxiety, are more likely than women with those disorders to have difficulties with social ...

Recommended for you

Gypsies and travellers on the English Green Belt

Oct 17, 2014

The battle between Gypsies, Travellers and the settled community over how land can be used has moved to the Green Belt, observes Peter Kabachnik of the City University of New York.

Cadavers beat computers for learning anatomy

Oct 16, 2014

Despite the growing popularity of using computer simulation to help teach college anatomy, students learn much better through the traditional use of human cadavers, according to new research that has implications ...

User comments : 0