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1.  “Working the System”—British American Tobacco's Influence on the European Union Treaty and Its Implications for Policy: An Analysis of Internal Tobacco Industry Documents 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(1):e1000202.
Katherine Smith and colleagues investigate the ways in which British American Tobacco influenced the European Union Treaty so that new EU policies advance the interests of major corporations, including those that produce products damaging to health.
Impact assessment (IA) of all major European Union (EU) policies is now mandatory. The form of IA used has been criticised for favouring corporate interests by overemphasising economic impacts and failing to adequately assess health impacts. Our study sought to assess how, why, and in what ways corporations, and particularly the tobacco industry, influenced the EU's approach to IA.
Methods and Findings
In order to identify whether industry played a role in promoting this system of IA within the EU, we analysed internal documents from British American Tobacco (BAT) that were disclosed following a series of litigation cases in the United States. We combined this analysis with one of related literature and interviews with key informants. Our analysis demonstrates that from 1995 onwards BAT actively worked with other corporate actors to successfully promote a business-oriented form of IA that favoured large corporations. It appears that BAT favoured this form of IA because it could advance the company's European interests by establishing ground rules for policymaking that would: (i) provide an economic framework for evaluating all policy decisions, implicitly prioritising costs to businesses; (ii) secure early corporate involvement in policy discussions; (iii) bestow the corporate sector with a long-term advantage over other actors by increasing policymakers' dependence on information they supplied; and (iv) provide businesses with a persuasive means of challenging potential and existing legislation. The data reveal that an ensuing lobbying campaign, largely driven by BAT, helped secure binding changes to the EU Treaty via the Treaty of Amsterdam that required EU policymakers to minimise legislative burdens on businesses. Efforts subsequently focused on ensuring that these Treaty changes were translated into the application of a business orientated form of IA (cost–benefit analysis [CBA]) within EU policymaking procedures. Both the tobacco and chemical industries have since employed IA in apparent attempts to undermine key aspects of European policies designed to protect public health.
Our findings suggest that BAT and its corporate allies have fundamentally altered the way in which all EU policy is made by making a business-oriented form of IA mandatory. This increases the likelihood that the EU will produce policies that advance the interests of major corporations, including those that produce products damaging to health, rather than in the interests of its citizens. Given that the public health community, focusing on health IA, has largely welcomed the increasing policy interest in IA, this suggests that urgent consideration is required of the ways in which IA can be employed to undermine, as well as support, effective public health policies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The primary goal of public health, the branch of medicine concerned with the health of communities, is to improve lives by preventing disease. Public-health groups do this by assessing and monitoring the health of communities, by ensuring that populations have access to appropriate and cost-effective health care, and by helping to formulate public policies that safeguard human health. Until recently, most of the world's major public-health concerns related to infectious diseases. Nowadays, however, many major public-health concerns are linked to the goods made and marketed by large corporations such as fast food, alcohol, tobacco, and chemicals. In Europe, these corporations are regulated by policies drawn up both by member states and by the European Commission, the executive organ of the European Union (EU; an economic and political partnership among 27 democratic European countries). Thus, for example, the tobacco industry, which is widely recognized as a driver of the smoking epidemic, is regulated by Europe-wide tobacco control policies and member state level policies.
Why Was This Study Done?
Since 1997, the European Commission has been required by law to assess the economic, social (including health), and environmental consequences of new policy initiatives using a process called an “impact assessment” (IA). Because different types of IA examine the likely effects of policies on different aspects of daily life—a health impact assessment, for example, focuses on a policy's effect on health—the choice of IA can lead to different decisions being taken about new policies. Although the IA tool adopted by the European Commission aims to assess economic, environmental and social impacts, independent experts suggest this tool does not adequately assess health impacts. Instead, economic impacts receive the most attention, a situation that may favour the interests of large businesses. In this study, the researchers seek to identify how and why the EU's approach to IA developed. More specifically, the researchers analyze internal documents from British American Tobacco (BAT), which have been disclosed because of US litigation cases, to find out whether industry has played a role in promoting the EU's system of IA.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed 714 BAT internal documents (identified by searching the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library, which contains more than 10 million internal tobacco company documents) that concerned attempts made by BAT to influence regulatory reforms in Europe. They also analyzed related literature from other sources (for example, academic publications) and interviewed 16 relevant people (including people who had worked at the European Commission). This analysis shows that from 1995, BAT worked with other businesses to promote European regulatory reforms (in particular, the establishment of a business-orientated form of IA) that favor large corporations. A lobbying campaign, initiated by BAT but involving a “policy network” of other companies, first helped to secure binding changes to the EU Treaty that require policymakers to minimize legislative burdens on businesses. The analysis shows that after achieving this goal, which BAT described as an “important victory,” further lobbying ensured that these treaty changes were translated into the implementation of a business-orientated form of IA within the EU. Both the tobacco industry and the chemical industry, the researchers argue, have since used the IA to delay and/or weaken EU legislation intended to protect public health.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that BAT and its corporate allies have fundamentally altered the way in which EU policy is made by ensuring that all significant EU policy decisions have to be assessed using a business-orientated IA. As the authors note, this situation increases the likelihood that the EU will produce policies that favor big business rather than the health of its citizens. Furthermore, these findings suggest that by establishing a network of other industries to help in lobbying for EU Treaty changes, BAT was able to distance itself from the push to establish a business-orientated IA to the extent that Commission officials were unaware of the involvement of the tobacco industry in campaigns for IA. Thus, in future, to safeguard public health, policymakers and public-health groups must pay more attention to corporate efforts to shape decision-making processes. In addition, public-health groups must take account of the ways in which IA can be used to undermine as well as support effective public-health policies and they must collaborate more closely in their efforts to ensure effective national and international policy.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia has a page on public health (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
More information on the European Union (in several languages), on public health in the European Union, and on impact assessment by the European Commission is available
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library is a public, searchable database of tobacco company internal documents detailing their advertising, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and scientific activities
The World Health Organization provides information about the dangers of tobacco (in several languages)
The Smoke Free Partnership contains more information about smoking prevalence in Europe and about European policies to tackle the public health issues associated with tobacco use
For more information about tobacco industry influence on policy see the 2009 World Health Organization report on tobacco industry interference with tobacco control
PMCID: PMC2797088  PMID: 20084098
2.  Suicide after Leaving the UK Armed Forces —A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(3):e1000026.
Few studies have examined suicide risk in individuals once they have left the military. We aimed to investigate the rate, timing, and risk factors for suicide in all those who had left the UK Armed Forces (1996–2005).
Methods and Findings
We carried out a cohort study of ex-Armed Forces personnel by linking national databases of discharged personnel and suicide deaths (which included deaths receiving either a suicide or undetermined verdict). Comparisons were made with both general and serving populations. During the study period 233,803 individuals left the Armed Forces and 224 died by suicide. Although the overall rate of suicide was not greater than that in the general population, the risk of suicide in men aged 24 y and younger who had left the Armed Forces was approximately two to three times higher than the risk for the same age groups in the general and serving populations (age-specific rate ratios ranging from 170 to 290). The risk of suicide for men aged 30–49 y was lower than that in the general population. The risk was persistent but may have been at its highest in the first 2 y following discharge. The risk of suicide was greatest in males, those who had served in the Army, those with a short length of service, and those of lower rank. The rate of contact with specialist mental health was lowest in the age groups at greatest risk of suicide (14% for those aged under 20 y, 20% for those aged 20–24 y).
Young men who leave the UK Armed Forces were at increased risk of suicide. This may reflect preservice vulnerabilities rather than factors related to service experiences or discharge. Preventive strategies might include practical and psychological preparation for discharge and encouraging appropriate help-seeking behaviour once individuals have left the services.
Navneet Kapur and colleagues find that young men who leave the United Kingdom Armed Forces are at increased risk of suicide.
Editors' Summary
Leaving any job can be hard but for people leaving the armed forces the adjustment to their new circumstances can sometimes be particularly difficult. For example, ex-military personnel may face obstacles to getting a new job, particularly if they were injured in action. Some become homeless. Others turn to alcohol or drugs or suffer mental illnesses such as depression. These things probably aren't common but those who leave the armed forces might also be at higher risk of suicide than the general population.
Why Was This Study Done?
Serving members of the UK Armed Forces (the British Army, the Naval Service, and the Royal Air Force) have a lower rate of suicide than the general UK population. The lower rate is probably due to “the healthy worker effect” (i.e., workers tend to be healthier than the general population, since the latter includes people unable to work due to illness or disability). However, there are anecdotal reports that ex-military personnel are more likely to die by suicide than are members of the general population. If these reports are correct, then measures should be put into place to prepare people for leaving the Armed Forces and to provide more support for them once they have left the military. The authors of this new study say that no previous studies had systematically examined suicide risk in individuals leaving the Armed Forces. In this new study, therefore, the researchers examine the suicide rate, timing, and risk factors for suicide in a large group (cohort) of former members of the UK Armed Forces.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers linked data on everyone who left the UK Armed Forces between 1996 and 2005 with information on suicides collected by the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide. Since 1996, the Inquiry has been collecting information about all suicides (defined as cases where the coroner has given a verdict of suicide or of “undetermined death”) in the UK, including information about whether the deceased used mental health services in the year before they died. The aim of the Inquiry is to reduce the risk of suicides (and homicides) in the UK by improving the country's mental health services. Between 1996 and 2005, 233,803 people left the Armed Forces and 224 (nearly all men) died by suicide. The researchers' statistical analysis of these data indicates that the overall suicide rate in the ex-military personnel was similar to that in the general population. However, the risk of suicide in men aged 24 y or younger who had left the military was 2–3 times greater than that in the same age group in both the general male population and in men serving in the Armed Forces. The risk of dying by suicide was highest in the first 2 y after leaving the military but remained raised for several years. Risk factors for suicide among ex-military personnel included being male, serving in the Army, having a short length of service, and being of lower rank. Only a fifth of the ex-military personnel who committed suicide had been in contact with mental health services in the year before they died, and the rate of contact with these services was lowest among individuals in the age groups at the highest risk of suicide.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that young men leaving the UK Armed Forces are at increased risk of suicide, particularly shortly after leaving. The study was not able to prove the reason for this increased risk, but the authors suggest three main possibilities: (1) the stress of transitioning to civilian life, (2) exposure to adverse experiences while in the military, or (3) a vulnerability to suicide before entering the military. The study provides some evidence to support the third hypothesis—untrained personnel with short lengths of service have a particularly high risk of dying by suicide after leaving the military, suggesting that the increased suicide risk may reflect a pre-military vulnerability. The researchers suggest that practical and psychological preparation might be helpful for people leaving the Armed Forces and that appropriate help-seeking behavior could be encouraged in these individuals. In the UK, the National Health Service is currently piloting a community-based mental health service for military veterans, characterized by regional clinical networks involving partnerships of relevant experts.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Jitender Sareen and Shay-Lee Belik
The Manchester University Centre for Suicide Prevention provides information about the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide and about other research into suicide, and a list of useful Web sites and help lines for people going through crises
A recent article in the Observer newspaper by Mark Townsend discusses the problems facing UK military personnel when they leave the Armed Forces
Information about suicides among serving members of the UK Armed Forces is published by the Defence Analytical Services Agency
The UK National Health Service provides information about suicide, including statistics about suicide in the UK and links to other resources
MedlinePlus also provides links to further information and advice about suicide
The World Health Organization provides information on the global burden of suicide
PMCID: PMC2650723  PMID: 19260757
3.  Maternal death inquiry and response in India - the impact of contextual factors on defining an optimal model to help meet critical maternal health policy objectives 
Maternal death reviews have been utilized in several countries as a means of identifying social and health care quality issues affecting maternal survival. From 2005 to 2009, a standardized community-based maternal death inquiry and response initiative was implemented in eight Indian states with the aim of addressing critical maternal health policy objectives. However, state-specific contextual factors strongly influenced the effort's success. This paper examines the impact and implications of the contextual factors.
We identified community, public health systems and governance related contextual factors thought to affect the implementation, utilization and up-scaling of the death inquiry process. Then, according to selected indicators, we documented the contextual factors' presence and their impact on the process' success in helping meet critical maternal health policy objectives in four districts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. Based on this assessment, we propose an optimal model for conducting community-based maternal death inquiries in India and similar settings.
The death inquiry process led to increases in maternal death notification and investigation whether civil society or government took charge of these tasks, stimulated sharing of the findings in multiple settings and contributed to the development of numerous evidence-based local, district and statewide maternal health interventions. NGO inputs were essential where communities, public health systems and governance were weak and boosted effectiveness in stronger settings. Public health systems participation was enabled by responsive and accountable governance. Communities participated most successfully through India's established local governance Panchayat Raj Institutions. In one instance this led to the development of a multi-faceted intervention well-integrated at multiple levels.
The impact of several contextual factors on the death inquiry process could be discerned, and suggested an optimal implementation model. District and state government must mandate and support the process, while the district health office should provide overall coordination, manage the death inquiry data as part of its routine surveillance programme, and organize a highly participatory means, preferably within an existing structure, of sharing the findings with the community and developing evidence-based maternal health interventions. NGO assistance and the support of a development partner may be needed, particularly in locales with weaker communities, public health systems or governance.
PMCID: PMC3292953  PMID: 22128848
Maternal mortality; health policy; verbal autopsy; death inquiry; community participation
4.  Global aspirations, local realities: the role of social science research in controlling neglected tropical diseases 
Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are both drivers and manifestations of poverty and social inequality. Increased advocacy efforts since the mid-2000s have led to ambitious new control and elimination targets set for 2020 by the World Health Organisation. While these global aspirations represent significant policy momentum, there are multifaceted challenges in controlling infectious diseases in resource-poor local contexts that need to be acknowledged, understood and engaged. However a number of recent publications have emphasised the “neglected” status of applied social science research on NTDs. In light of the 2020 targets, this paper explores the social science/NTD literature and unpacks some of the ways in which social inquiry can help support effective and sustainable interventions. Five priority areas are discussed, including on policy processes, health systems capacity, compliance and resistance to interventions, education and behaviour change, and community participation. The paper shows that despite the multifaceted value of having anthropological and sociological perspectives integrated into NTD programmes, contemporary efforts underutilise this potential. This is reflective of the dominance of top-down information flows and technocratic approaches in global health. To counter this tendency, social research needs to be more than an afterthought; integrating social inquiry into the planning, monitoring and evaluating process will help ensure that flexibility and adaptability to local realities are built into interventions. More emphasis on social science perspectives can also help link NTD control to broader social determinants of health, especially important given the major social and economic inequalities that continue to underpin transmission in endemic countries.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2049-9957-3-35) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4197218  PMID: 25320672
Neglected tropical diseases; Applied social sciences; Implementation research; Social determinants; Community participation; Policy; Global health; Sociology; Anthropology
5.  The rise and fall of Australian physical activity policy 1996 – 2006: a national review framed in an international context 
This paper provides an historical review of physical activity policy development in Australia for a period spanning a decade since the release of the US Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health in 1996 and including the 2004 WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Using our definition of 'HARDWIRED' policy criteria, this Australian review is compared with an international perspective of countries with established national physical activity policies and strategies (New Zealand, Canada, Brazil, Scotland, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Finland). Methods comprised a literature and policy review, audit of relevant web sites, document searches and surveys of international stakeholders.
All these selected countries embraced multi-strategic policies and undertook monitoring of physical activity through national surveys. Few committed to policy of more than three years duration and none undertook systematic evaluation of national policy implementation. This Australian review highlights phases of innovation and leadership in physical activity-related policy, as well as periods of stagnation and decline; early efforts were amongst the best in the world but by the mid-point of this review (the year 2000), promising attempts towards development of a national intersectoral policy framework were thwarted by reforms in the Federal Sport and Recreation sector. Several well received reviews of evidence on good practices in physical activity and public health were produced in the period but leadership and resources were lacking to implement the policies and programs indicated. Latterly, widespread publicity and greatly increased public and political interest in chronic disease prevention, (especially in obesity and type 2 diabetes) have dominated the framework within which Australian policy deliberations have occurred. Finally, a national physical activity policy framework for the Health sector emerged, but not as a policy vision that was inclusive of the other essential sectors such as Education, Transport, Urban Planning as well as Sport and Recreation.
Despite some progression of physical activity policy in the decade since 1995/6, this review found inconsistent policy development, both in Australia and elsewhere. Arguably, Australia has done no worse than other countries, but more effective responses to physical inactivity in populations can be built only on sustainable multi-sectoral public health policy partnerships that are well informed by evidence of effectiveness and good practice. In Australia and elsewhere prerequisites for success are political support, long-term investment and commitment to program implementation and evaluation. An urgent priority is media and political advocacy for physical activity focussed on these factors.
PMCID: PMC2525635  PMID: 18667088
6.  Moving from Intersection to Integration: Public Health Law Research and Public Health Systems and Services Research 
The Milbank Quarterly  2012;90(2):375-408.
For three decades, experts have been stressing the importance of law to the effective operation of public health systems. Most recently, in a 2011 report, the Institute of Medicine recommended a review of state and local public health laws to ensure appropriate authority for public health agencies; adequate access to legal counsel for public health agencies; evaluations of the health effects and costs associated with legislation, regulations, and policies; and enhancement of research methods to assess the strength of evidence regarding the health effects of public policies. These recommendations, and the continued interest in law as a determinant of health system performance, speak to the need for integrating the emerging fields of Public Health Law Research (PHLR) and Public Health Systems and Services Research (PHSSR).
Expert commentary.
This article sets out a unified framework for the two fields and a shared research agenda built around three broad inquiries: (1) the structural role of law in shaping the organization, powers, prerogatives, duties, and limitations of public health agencies and thereby their functioning and ultimately their impact on public health (“infrastructure”); (2) the mechanisms through which public health system characteristics influence the implementation of interventional public health laws (“implementation”); and (3) the individual and system characteristics that influence the ability of public health systems and their community partners to develop and secure enactment of legal initiatives to advance public health (“innovation”). Research to date has laid a foundation of evidence, but progress requires better and more accessible data, a new generation of researchers comfortable in both law and health research, and more rigorous methods.
The routine integration of law as a salient factor in broader PHSSR studies of public health system functioning and health outcomes will enhance the usefulness of research in supporting practice and the long-term improvement of system performance.
PMCID: PMC3460210  PMID: 22709392
Public health law research; health promotion/legislation and jurisprudence; public health systems and services research; models; theoretical; public health practice; public health administration
7.  Shaping policy: the Canadian Cancer Society and the Hormone Receptor Testing Inquiry 
Current Oncology  2011;18(4):174-179.
In 2007, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador established the Commission of Inquiry on Hormone Receptor Testing to examine problems with estrogen and progesterone hormone receptor tests conducted in the province between 1997 and 2005. Using the Inquiry as a case study, we examine the knowledge transfer activities used by the Canadian Cancer Society – Newfoundland and Labrador Division (CCS-NL) to shape policy and improve cancer control in the province.
CCS-NL established a panel to advise its legal counsel and asked academic researchers to prepare papers to submit to the Commission. CCS-NL also interviewed patients to better inform its legal arguments, used its province-wide networks to raise awareness of the Inquiry, and provided a toll-free number that people could call. It also provided basic information, resources, and contact information for people who were affected by the flawed hormone receptor tests. The effectiveness of CCS-NL’s activities is reflected by the inclusion of its key messages in the Commission’s recommendations, and the investment in cancer care following the Inquiry.
The success of the CCS-NL knowledge transfer efforts stemmed from its reputation as an advocate for cancer patients and its long-standing relationship with researchers, especially at the local level. The case illustrates real-world application of knowledge transfer practices in the development of public policy, and describes how community-based non-government organizations can identify and draw attention to important issues that otherwise might not have been addressed.
PMCID: PMC3149545  PMID: 21874116
Knowledge transfer; policy; commission of inquiry; hormone receptor; cancer control
8.  Mental health care in Nepal: current situation and challenges for development of a district mental health care plan 
Globally mental health problems are a serious public health concern. Currently four out of five people with severe mental illness in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) receive no effective treatment. There is an urgent need to address this enormous treatment gap. Changing the focus of specialist mental health workers (psychiatrists and psychologists) from only service delivery to also designing and managing mental health services; building clinical capacity of the primary health care (PHC) workers, and providing supervision and quality assurance of mental health services may help in scaling up mental health services in LMICs. Little is known however, about the mental health policy and services context for these strategies in fragile-state settings, such as Nepal.
A standard situation analysis tool was developed by the PRogramme for Improving Mental health carE (PRIME) consortium to systematically analyze and describe the current gaps in mental health care in Nepal, in order to inform the development of a district level mental health care plan (MHCP). It comprised six sections; general information (e.g. population, socio-economic conditions); mental health policies and plans; mental health treatment coverage; district health services; and community services. Data was obtained from secondary sources, including scientific publications, reports, project documents and hospital records.
Mental health policy exists in Nepal, having been adopted in 1997, but implementation of the policy framework has yet to begin. In common with other LMICs, the budget allocated for mental health is minimal. Mental health services are concentrated in the big cities, with 0.22 psychiatrists and 0.06 psychologists per 100,000 population. The key challenges experienced in developing a district level MHCP included, overburdened health workers, lack of psychotropic medicines in the PHC, lack of mental health supervision in the existing system, and lack of a coordinating body in the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP). Strategies to overcome these challenges included involvement of MoHP in the process, especially by providing psychotropic medicines and appointing a senior level officer to facilitate project activities, and collaboration with National Health Training Centers (NHTC) in training programs.
This study describes many challenges facing mental health care in Nepal. Most of these challenges are not new, yet this study contributes to our understanding of these difficulties by outlining the national and district level factors that have a direct influence on the development of a district level mental health care plan.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13031-014-0030-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4331482
Mental health; Situation analysis; Integration of mental health into PHC; Mental health care plan; Nepal
9.  An assessment of mental health policy in Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia 
Approximately half of the countries in the African Region had a mental health policy by 2005, but little is known about quality of mental health policies in Africa and globally. This paper reports the results of an assessment of the mental health policies of Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia.
The WHO Mental Health Policy Checklist was used to evaluate the most current mental health policy in each country. Assessments were completed and reviewed by a specially constituted national committee as well as an independent WHO team. Results of each country evaluation were discussed until consensus was reached.
All four policies received a high level mandate. Each policy addressed community-based services, the integration of mental health into general health care, promotion of mental health and rehabilitation. Prevention was addressed in the South African and Ugandan policies only. Use of evidence for policy development varied considerably. Consultations were mainly held with the mental health sector. Only the Zambian policy presented a clear vision, while three of four countries spelt out values and principles, the need to establish a coordinating body for mental health, and to protect the human rights of people with mental health problems. None included all the basic elements of a policy, nor specified sources and levels of funding for implementation. Deinstitutionalisation and the provision of essential psychotropic medicines were insufficiently addressed. Advocacy, empowerment of users and families and intersectoral collaboration were inadequately addressed. Only Uganda sufficiently outlined a mental health information system, research and evaluation, while only Ghana comprehensively addressed human resources and training requirements. No country had an accompanying strategic mental health plan to allow the development and implementation of concrete strategies and activities.
Six gaps which could impact on the policies' effect on countries' mental health systems were: lack of internal consistency of structure and content of policies, superficiality of key international concepts, lack of evidence on which to base policy directions, inadequate political support, poor integration of mental health policies within the overall national policy and legislative framework, and lack of financial specificity. Three strategies to address these concerns emerged, namely strengthening capacity of key stakeholders in public (mental) health and policy development, creation of a culture of inclusive and dynamic policy development, and coordinated action to optimize use of available resources.
PMCID: PMC3090369  PMID: 21477285
10.  “A Good Personal Scientific Relationship”: Philip Morris Scientists and the Chulabhorn Research Institute, Bangkok 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(12):e238.
This paper examines the efforts of consultants affiliated with Philip Morris (PM), the world's leading transnational tobacco corporation, to influence scientific research and training in Thailand via the Chulabhorn Research Institute (CRI). A leading Southeast Asian institute for environmental health science, the CRI is headed by Professor Dr. Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn, the daughter of the King of Thailand, and it has assumed international significance via its designation as a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre in December 2005.
Methods and Findings
This paper analyses previously confidential tobacco industry documents that were made publicly available following litigation in the United States. PM documents reveal that ostensibly independent overseas scientists, now identified as industry consultants, were able to gain access to the Thai scientific community. Most significantly, PM scientist Roger Walk has established close connections with the CRI. Documents indicate that Walk was able to use such links to influence the study and teaching of environmental toxicology in the institute and to develop relations with key officials and local scientists so as to advance the interests of PM within Thailand and across Asia. While sensitivities surrounding royal patronage of the CRI make public criticism extremely difficult, indications of ongoing involvement by tobacco industry consultants suggest the need for detailed scrutiny of such relationships.
The establishment of close links with the CRI advances industry strategies to influence scientific research and debate around tobacco and health, particularly regarding secondhand smoke, to link with academic institutions, and to build relationships with national elites. Such strategies assume particular significance in the national and regional contexts presented here amid the globalisation of the tobacco pandemic. From an international perspective, particular concern is raised by the CRI's recently awarded status as a WHO Collaborating Centre. Since the network of WHO Collaborating Centres rests on the principle of “using national institutions for international purposes,” the documents presented below suggest that more rigorous safeguards are required to ensure that such use advances public health goals rather than the objectives of transnational corporations.
Jeff Collin and Ross MacKenzie analyze tobacco industry documents and find that Philip Morris consultants were able to gain access to a Thai research institute that is a WHO Collaborating Centre.
Editors' Summary
Tobacco use kills 5.4 million people a year (one person every six seconds) and accounts for one in ten adult deaths worldwide. Globally, the use of tobacco is on the rise, especially in developing countries, which have become a major target for tobacco industry marketing. The tobacco industry has worked hard to try and influence public perceptions about the risks of smoking and the risk of inhaling secondhand smoke (passive smoking). The industry has used a variety of tactics to downplay the health hazards of smoking or inhaling secondhand smoke—two examples are publishing articles casting doubts about the health hazards of tobacco and funding research that is biased toward giving pro-industry results. Another tactic is for tobacco industry consultants to try and gain entry to universities and other academic centers to see if they can influence research and teaching activities.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers were concerned that consultants from the tobacco company Philip Morris had gained access to an academic research center in Thailand called the Chulabhorn Research Institute (CRI). The CRI is an internationally renowned teaching institution for a variety of scientific disciplines, including environmental toxicology (the study of how chemicals in the environment, such as tobacco smoke, can affect human health), biomedicine, and biotechnology. The institute has secured funding from the Thai government, the Association of Southeast Nations and the United Nations Development Programme. In 2005 the institute's environmental toxicology unit was designated a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre. WHO Collaborating Centres are “institutions such as research institutes, parts of universities or academies, that are designated by the Director-General of the WHO to carry out activities in support of the WHO's programs” ( The researchers were concerned that Philip Morris consultants had been able to develop relationships with the CRI to help advance the company's interests.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed previously confidential tobacco industry documents that were made publicly available online following litigation in the United States. They searched two online collections of industry documents—the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library and Tobacco Documents Online—as well as the online collections operated by US-based tobacco companies. They found that consultants to Philip Morris were able to gain access to the scientific community in Thailand. A Philip Morris scientist named Roger Walk was able to establish close connections to the CRI, and he used these connections to influence research and teaching activities at the CRI on environmental toxicology. Walk was also able to build relationships with government officials and scientists in Thailand to help advance the interests of Philip Morris in the country and across Asia.
What Do these Findings Mean?
This study provides evidence that the tobacco industry has established close links with a research institute in Thailand that collaborates with the WHO, and has been able to influence the institute's teaching curriculum and research. Such links are of great concern to the public health community, which is working hard to reduce deaths and disease due to tobacco. These links raise the possibility that the tobacco industry is managing to influence medical research and teaching at academic institutions. The WHO has stated that a firewall is in place between itself and the tobacco industry—but the study authors argue, based on their findings, that “this firewall is not impenetrable.” The study findings, they conclude, highlight a challenge posed to international tobacco control efforts, especially with respect to Article 5.3 of an international treaty called the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; Article 5.3 addresses the need to protect public health policies from the vested interests of the tobacco industry. The authors say that better safeguards must be put in place to prevent tobacco companies from thwarting public health goals.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Legacy Tobacco Documents Library contains over 9.7 million documents created by tobacco companies
Tobacco Documents Online contains over 4 million tobacco industry documents
Over 900 WHO Collaborating Centres are at work in 99 Member States on many health disciplines
The WHO held an inquiry in 2000 into possible tobacco industry influence over the organization (and over other UN agencies), and has published its recommendations in response to this inquiry
The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is an international treaty on controlling tobacco
PMCID: PMC2605886  PMID: 19108600
11.  Identification of potential opinion leaders in child health promotion in Sweden using network analysis 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:424.
Opinion leaders are often local individuals with high credibility who can influence other people. Robust effects using opinion leaders in diffusing innovations have been shown in several randomized controlled trials, for example regarding sexually transmitted infections (STI), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention, mammography rates and caesarean birth delivery rates. In a Cochrane review 2010 it was concluded that the use of opinion leaders can successfully promote evidence-based practice. Thus, using opinion leaders within the public health sector might be one means to speed up the dissemination of health promoting and disease preventing innovations. Social network analysis has been used to trace and map networks, with focus on relationships and positions, in widely spread arenas and topics. The purpose of this study was to use social network analysis in order to identify potential opinion leaders at the arena of child health promotion in Sweden.
By using snowball technique a short e-mail question was spread in up to five links, starting from seven initially invited persons. This inquiry resulted in a network consisting of 153 individuals. The most often mentioned actors were researchers, public health officials and paediatricians, or a combination of these professions. Four single individuals were mentioned by five to seven other persons in the network. These individuals obviously possess qualities that make other professionals within the public health sector listen to and trust them.
Social network analysis seemed to be a useful method to identify influential persons with high credibility, i.e. potential opinion leaders, at the arena of child health promotion in Sweden. If genuine opinion leaders could be identified directed measures can be carried out in order to spread new and relevant knowledge. This may facilitate for public health actors at the local, regional and national level to more rapidly progress innovations into everyday practice. However, effectiveness studies of opinion leaders in the public health sector still have to be performed.
PMCID: PMC3434052  PMID: 22873749
Network analysis; Opinion leaders; Child health promotion
12.  Toward a Global View of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, and Cocaine Use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(7):e141.
Alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use cause considerable morbidity and mortality, but good cross-national epidemiological data are limited. This paper describes such data from the first 17 countries participating in the World Health Organization's (WHO's) World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative.
Methods and Findings
Household surveys with a combined sample size of 85,052 were carried out in the Americas (Colombia, Mexico, United States), Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Ukraine), Middle East and Africa (Israel, Lebanon, Nigeria, South Africa), Asia (Japan, People's Republic of China), and Oceania (New Zealand). The WHO Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) was used to assess the prevalence and correlates of a wide variety of mental and substance disorders. This paper focuses on lifetime use and age of initiation of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine. Alcohol had been used by most in the Americas, Europe, Japan, and New Zealand, with smaller proportions in the Middle East, Africa, and China. Cannabis use in the US and New Zealand (both 42%) was far higher than in any other country. The US was also an outlier in cocaine use (16%). Males were more likely than females to have used drugs; and a sex–cohort interaction was observed, whereby not only were younger cohorts more likely to use all drugs, but the male–female gap was closing in more recent cohorts. The period of risk for drug initiation also appears to be lengthening longer into adulthood among more recent cohorts. Associations with sociodemographic variables were consistent across countries, as were the curves of incidence of lifetime use.
Globally, drug use is not distributed evenly and is not simply related to drug policy, since countries with stringent user-level illegal drug policies did not have lower levels of use than countries with liberal ones. Sex differences were consistently documented, but are decreasing in more recent cohorts, who also have higher levels of illegal drug use and extensions in the period of risk for initiation.
Louisa Degenhardt and colleagues report an international survey of 17 countries that finds clear differences in drug use across different regions of the world.
Editors' Summary
Understanding how much disability and death a particular disease causes (known as the “burden of disease”) is important. Knowing the burden of a disease in a country contributes to the development of healthier nations by directing strategies and policies against the disease. Researchers' understanding of the burden of diseases across different countries was piecemeal until the 1990 launch of a special World Health Organization (WHO) project, the Global Burden of Disease Project. In 2002, on the basis of updated information from this ongoing project, the WHO estimated that 91 million people were affected by alcohol use disorders and 15 million by drug use disorders.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is widely accepted that alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use are linked with a considerable amount of illness, disability, and death. However, there are few high-quality data quantifying the amount across different countries, especially in less-developed countries. The researchers therefore set out to collect basic patterns of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use in different countries. They documented lifetime use of these substances in each county, focusing on young adults. They also wanted to examine the age of onset of use and whether the type of drugs used was affected by one's social and economic status.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Data on drug use were available from 54,069 survey participants in 17 countries. The 17 countries were determined by the availability of collaborators and on funding for the survey. Trained lay interviewers carried out face-to-face interviews (except in France where the interviews were done over the telephone) using a standardized, structured diagnostic interview for psychiatric conditions. Participants were asked if they had ever used (a) alcohol, (b) tobacco (cigarettes, cigars or pipes), (c) cannabis (marijuana, hashish), or (d) cocaine. If they had used any of these drugs, they were asked about the age they started using each type of drug. The age of first tobacco smoking was not assessed in New Zealand, Japan, France, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, Italy, or Spain. The interviewers also recorded the participants' sex, age, years of education, marital status, employment, and household income.
The researchers found that in the Americas, Europe, Japan, and New Zealand, alcohol had been used by the vast majority of survey participants, compared to smaller proportions in the Middle East, Africa, and China. The global distribution of drug use is unevenly distributed with the US having the highest levels of both legal and illegal drug use among all countries surveyed. There are differences in both legal and illegal drug use among different socioeconomic groups. For example, males were more likely than females to have used all drug types; younger adults were more likely than older adults to have used all drugs examined; and higher income was related to drug use of all kinds. Marital status was found to be linked only to illegal drug use—the use of cocaine and cannabis is more likely in people who have never been married or were previously married. Drug use does not appear to be related to drug policy, as countries with more stringent policies (e.g., the US) did not have lower levels of illegal drug use than countries with more liberal policies (e.g., The Netherlands).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings present comprehensive and useful data on the patterns of drug use from national samples representing all regions of the world. The data will add to the understanding of the global burden of disease and should be useful to government and health organizations in developing policies to combat these problems. The study does have its limitations—for example, it surveyed only 17 of the world's countries, within these countries there were different rates of participation, and it is unclear whether people accurately report their drug use when interviewed. Nevertheless, the study did find clear differences in drug use across different regions of the world, with the US having among the highest levels of legal and illegal drug use of all the countries surveyed.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Facts and figures on alcohol are available from the World Health Organization, including information about the burden of disease worldwide as a result of alcohol
Information on the management of substance abuse is available from WHO
Information on the Global Burden of Disease Project is also available from WHO
Researchers from the University of New South Wales, Australia and the University of Queensland co-chair, sponsors the Global Burden of Disease Mental Disorders and Illicit Drug Use Expert Group, which examines illicit drug use and disorders
The UN World Drug Report is available from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime
The University of New South Wales also runs the Secretariat for the Reference Group to the United Nations on HIV and Injecting Drug Use
PMCID: PMC2443200  PMID: 18597549
13.  Deinstitutionalisation of mental health care in the Netherlands: towards an integrative approach 
The objective of this policy paper is to put recent developments in Dutch mental health reform in an international perspective and draw conclusions for future directions in policy.
Context of the case
The practice of Western psychiatry in the second half and particularly in the last decade of the 20th century has fundamentally changed. Dutch psychiatry has traditionally been prominently bed-based and various policies in the last ten years have been intended to reduce the influence of the mental hospitals. Until the mid-1990s, this had not resulted in reducing the psychiatric bed rate in comparison to other countries. Since then, there have been rapid, dramatic changes.
Data sources
We summarised two recent national studies on this subject and placed them in a national and international context, using documents on psychiatric reforms, government and advisory board reports and reviews on deinstitutionalisation in different countries.
Case description
The practice of psychiatry in the second half, and particularly in the last decade, of the 20th century has fundamentally changed. This has resulted in a spectacular decline in the number of beds in mental hospitals, increased admissions, decreased length of stay, closure of the large asylums and in community treatment away from asylums and in society, although this is a reform process. This article examines how the Dutch mental health care system has developed at the national level. The main topics cover the size, nature, aims and effects of the process of deinstitutionalisation and how alternative facilities have been developed to replace the old-fashioned institutes.
Conclusions and discussion
There are two contrasting aspects of deinstitutionalisation in Dutch mental health care: the tendency towards rehospitalisation in relation to the sudden, late, but rapid reduction of the old mental hospitals and their premises; and a relatively large scale for community-based psychiatry in relation to building mental health care centres. Compared to other countries the bed rate in the Netherlands is still among the highest, although it is rapidly decreasing. Lessons from psychiatric reform in other countries emphasise the counterpart of deinstitutionalisation, especially issues such as the quality of alternative community treatment and increasing compulsory admission, while the closing down of old mental hospitals has caused a decrease in the availability of beds. In the Netherlands less attention has been paid to legislation, societal attitudes towards psychiatry, the roles of other care suppliers, the balancing and financing of care, the fate of psychiatric patients from old hospitals, the way to cope with the ever-increasing demand for psychiatric help and the actual quality of psychiatric help. A more integrative policy that includes all these aspects is desirable.
PMCID: PMC1480375  PMID: 16896384
deinstitutionalisation; mental health care centres; psychiatric hospitals; mergers; community treatment; health care policy
14.  Insights into the Management of Emerging Infections: Regulating Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Transfusion Risk in the UK and the US 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e342.
Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) is a human prion disease caused by infection with the agent of bovine spongiform encephalopathy. After the recognition of vCJD in the UK in 1996, many nations implemented policies intended to reduce the hypothetical risk of transfusion transmission of vCJD. This was despite the fact that no cases of transfusion transmission had yet been identified. In December 2003, however, the first case of vCJD in a recipient of blood from a vCJD-infected donor was announced. The aim of this study is to ascertain and compare the factors that influenced the motivation for and the design of regulations to prevent transfusion transmission of vCJD in the UK and US prior to the recognition of this case.
Methods and Findings
A document search was conducted to identify US and UK governmental policy statements and guidance, transcripts (or minutes when transcripts were not available) of scientific advisory committee meetings, research articles, and editorials published in medical and scientific journals on the topic of vCJD and blood transfusion transmission between March 1996 and December 2003. In addition, 40 interviews were conducted with individuals familiar with the decision-making process and/or the science involved. All documents and transcripts were coded and analyzed according to the methods and principles of grounded theory. Data showed that while resulting policies were based on the available science, social and historical factors played a major role in the motivation for and the design of regulations to protect against transfusion transmission of vCJD. First, recent experience with and collective guilt resulting from the transfusion-transmitted epidemics of HIV/AIDS in both countries served as a major, historically specific impetus for such policies. This history was brought to bear both by hemophilia activists and those charged with regulating blood products in the US and UK. Second, local specificities, such as the recall of blood products for possible vCJD contamination in the UK, contributed to a greater sense of urgency and a speedier implementation of regulations in that country. Third, while the results of scientific studies played a prominent role in the construction of regulations in both nations, this role was shaped by existing social and professional networks. In the UK, early focus on a European study implicating B-lymphocytes as the carrier of prion infectivity in blood led to the introduction of a policy that requires universal leukoreduction of blood components. In the US, early focus on an American study highlighting the ability of plasma to serve as a reservoir of prion infectivity led the FDA and its advisory panel to eschew similar measures.
The results of this study yield three important theoretical insights that pertain to the global management of emerging infectious diseases. First, because the perception and management of disease may be shaped by previous experience with disease, especially catastrophic experience, there is always the possibility for over-management of some possible routes of transmission and relative neglect of others. Second, local specificities within a given nation may influence the temporality of decision making, which in turn may influence the choice of disease management policies. Third, a preference for science-based risk management among nations will not necessarily lead to homogeneous policies. This is because the exposure to and interpretation of scientific results depends on the existing social and professional networks within a given nation. Together, these theoretical insights provide a framework for analyzing and anticipating potential conflicts in the international management of emerging infectious diseases. In addition, this study illustrates the utility of qualitative methods in investigating research questions that are difficult to assess through quantitative means.
A qualitative study of US and UK governmental policy statements on the topic of vCJD and blood transfusion transmission identified factors responsible for differences in the policies adopted.
Editors' Summary
In 1996 in the UK, a new type of human prion disease was seen for the first time. This is now known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). Prion diseases are rare brain diseases passed from individual to individual (or between animals) by a particular type of wrongly folded protein, and they are fatal. It was suspected that vCJD had passed to humans from cattle, and that the agent causing vCJD was the same as that causing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (or “mad cow disease”). Shortly after vCJD was recognized, authorities in many countries became concerned about the possibility that it could be transmitted from one person to another through contaminated blood supplies used for transfusion in hospitals. Even though there wasn't any evidence of actual transmission of the disease through blood before December 2003, authorities in the UK, US, and elsewhere set up regulations designed to reduce the chance of that happening. At this early stage in the epidemic, there was little in the way of scientific information about the transmission properties of the disease. Both the UK and US, however, sought to make decisions in a scientific manner. They made use of evidence as it was being produced, often before it had been published. Despite this, the UK and US decided on very different changes to their respective regulations on blood donation. Both countries chose to prevent certain people (who they thought would be at greater risk of having vCJD) from donating blood. In the UK, however, the decision was made to remove white blood cells from donated blood to reduce the risk of transmitting vCJD, while the US decided that such a step was not merited by the evidence.
Why Was This Study Done?
This researcher wanted to understand more clearly why the UK and US ended up with different policies: what role was played by science, and what role was played by non-scientific factors? She hoped that insights from this investigation would also be relevant to similar challenges in the future—for example, as many countries try to work out how to control the threat of avian flu.
What Did the Researcher Do and Find?
The researcher searched for all relevant official government documents from the US and UK, as well as scientific papers, published between the time vCJD was first identified (March 1996) and the first instance of vCJD carried through blood (December 2003). She also interviewed people who knew about vCJD management in the US and UK—for example, members of government agencies and the relevant advisory committees. From the documents and interviews, the researcher picked out and grouped shared ideas. Although these documents and interviews suggested that policy making was rooted in scientific evidence, many non-scientific factors were also important. The researcher found substantial uncertainty in the scientific evidence available at the time. The document search and interviews showed that policy makers felt guilty about a previous experience in which people had become infected with HIV/AIDS through contaminated blood and were concerned about repeating this experience. Finally, in the UK, the possibility of blood contamination was seen as a much more urgent problem than in the US, because BSE and vCJD were found there first and there were far more cases. This meant that when the UK made its decision about whether to remove white blood cells from donated blood, there was less scientific evidence available. In fact, the main study that was relied on at the time would later be questioned.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that for this particular case, science was not the only factor affecting government policies. Historical and social factors such as previous experience, sense of urgency, public pressure, and the relative importance of different scientific networks were also very important. The study predicts that in the future, infectious disease–related policy decisions are unlikely to be the same across different countries because the interpretation of scientific evidence depends, to a large extent, on social factors.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit, Edinburgh, UK
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pages about prion diseases
World Health Organization variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease fact sheet
US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke information about prion diseases
PMCID: PMC1621089  PMID: 17076547
15.  Common mental health problems in immigrants and refugees: general approach in primary care 
Recognizing and appropriately treating mental health problems among new immigrants and refugees in primary care poses a challenge because of differences in language and culture and because of specific stressors associated with migration and resettlement. We aimed to identify risk factors and strategies in the approach to mental health assessment and to prevention and treatment of common mental health problems for immigrants in primary care.
We searched and compiled literature on prevalence and risk factors for common mental health problems related to migration, the effect of cultural influences on health and illness, and clinical strategies to improve mental health care for immigrants and refugees. Publications were selected on the basis of relevance, use of recent data and quality in consultation with experts in immigrant and refugee mental health.
The migration trajectory can be divided into three components: premigration, migration and postmigration resettlement. Each phase is associated with specific risks and exposures. The prevalence of specific types of mental health problems is influenced by the nature of the migration experience, in terms of adversity experienced before, during and after resettlement. Specific challenges in migrant mental health include communication difficulties because of language and cultural differences; the effect of cultural shaping of symptoms and illness behaviour on diagnosis, coping and treatment; differences in family structure and process affecting adaptation, acculturation and intergenerational conflict; and aspects of acceptance by the receiving society that affect employment, social status and integration. These issues can be addressed through specific inquiry, the use of trained interpreters and culture brokers, meetings with families, and consultation with community organizations.
Systematic inquiry into patients’ migration trajectory and subsequent follow-up on culturally appropriate indicators of social, vocational and family functioning over time will allow clinicians to recognize problems in adaptation and undertake mental health promotion, disease prevention or treatment interventions in a timely way.
PMCID: PMC3168672  PMID: 20603342
16.  Culture, class, and service delivery: The politics of welfare reform and an urban bioethics Agenda 
Culture and class remain contested terrains in policy narratives about the right of the urban poor to access health and social services delivery systems under welfare reform. An urban bioethics agenda is needed to address these dilemmas that have arisen in the context of PRWORA and had an impact on access to health and social services in the urban environment.2;18 Such efforts, however, must address the intellectual framing of the urban poor, as well as the public policies that inscribe deterministic and stereotypical ideas about the poor alongside incomplete portraits of barriers to greater social and occupational mobility.
The focus of social science researchers on the delineation of behavioral characteristics among an urban “underclass” in some instances further marginalizes and stigmatizes an already isolated urban poor. Even though Wilson, the Harvard sociologist who popularized the term “underclass” in his earlier research, has now largely disowned it, tales and stories a bound in the social policy and health literature. The media also commonly underscore perceptions that establish rumor as social science and promote stereotypes that the poor are lazy and unwilling to work. Wilson, who has analyzed contextual and neighborhood factors such as the migration of jobs to the suburbs, has also declared stance that is in opposition to those, such as New York University political science professor Lawrence Mead, who embrace a “culture of poverty” thesis and have set the tone for some welfare reform initiatives by arguing that behavior, and not joblessness, is the key, “My guess,” Mead stated after welfare reform was enacted in 1996, ”is that culture came first, and drove away the economy or the good jobs, rather than the other way around,” 21(p3)These statements continue to have dramatic impacts on the stigmas attached to public programs by promoting the idea that those in spatially concentrated radical and ethnic groups in urban areas are not members of the working class. Such perceptions have also contributed to a belief that those who participate in publicly subsidized social welfare and health insurance programs do not work.
Whether one accepts that the denial of health care to citizens and noncitizens in contemporary America derives in large part from the promotion of images of the poor as pathological, states have moved steadily to institute a variety of policies under welfare reform that continue to prescribe narrower eligibility criteria for access to service delivery systems. This is occurring as the US Congress hesitates to restore excluded populations, and there are reports of questionable practices targeted at those who are eligible based on current legislation. On several occasions, for example, the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Health and Human Services has made inquiries (and issued sanctions) in cases for which state and local governments have discriminated against potential Medicaid and TANF applicants by ignoring regulations that stipulate that applications be delivered to applicants on request in a timely manner.3
While it is the explicit responsibility under welfare reform of the US Congress to pass legislation restoring eligibility to excluded populations, an urban bioethics agenda framed in a historical context has much to offer prevailing policy discourses. If, as political theorist Stone notes, a policy alternative is to be judged “by the company that it keeps,” then urban bioethicists can offer human rights paradigms and additional policy alternatives based an assessments of earlier historical experiences of stigmatization that embodied similar forms of evil.23
PMCID: PMC3456202  PMID: 11368206
17.  Mental disorder and clinical care in people convicted of homicide: national clinical survey 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1999;318(7193):1240-1244.
To estimate the rate of mental disorder in those convicted of homicide and to examine the social and clinical characteristics of those with a history of contact with psychiatric services.
National clinical survey.
England and Wales.
Eighteen month sample of people convicted of homicide.
Main outcome measures
Offence related and clinical information collected from psychiatric court reports on people convicted of homicide. Detailed clinical data collected on those with a history of contact with psychiatric services.
718 homicides were reported to the inquiry between April 1996 and November 1997. Of the 500 cases for whom psychiatric reports were retrieved, 220 (44%; 95% confidence interval 40% to 48%) had a lifetime history of mental disorder, while 71 (14%; 11% to 17%) had symptoms of mental illness at the time of the homicide. Of the total sample, 102 (14%; 12% to 17%) were confirmed to have been in contact with mental health services at some time, 58 (8%; 6% to 10%) in the year before the homicide. The commonest diagnosis was personality disorder (20 cases, 22%; 13% to 30%). Alcohol and drug misuse were also common. Only 15 subjects (18%; 10% to 26%) were receiving intensive community care, and 60 (63%; 53% to 73%) were out of contact at the time of the homicide.
There are substantial rates of mental disorder in people convicted of homicide. Most do not have severe mental illness or a history of contact with mental health services. Inquiry findings suggest that preventing loss of contact with services and improving the clinical management of patients with both mental illness and substance misuse may reduce risk, but clinical trials are needed to examine the effectiveness of such interventions.
Key messagesPeople convicted of homicide have substantial rates of mental disorderMost do not have severe mental illness or a history of contact with mental health servicesMental health services need to prevent loss of contact with patientsThe clinical management of patients with both mental illness and substance misuse needs to be improved
PMCID: PMC27860  PMID: 10231252
18.  The terrain of health policy analysis in low and middle income countries: a review of published literature 1994–2007 
Health Policy and Planning  2008;23(5):294-307.
This article provides the first ever review of literature analysing the health policy processes of low and middle income countries (LMICs). Based on a systematic search of published literature using two leading international databases, the article maps the terrain of work published between 1994 and 2007, in terms of policy topics, lines of inquiry and geographical base, as well as critically evaluating its strengths and weaknesses. The overall objective of the review is to provide a platform for the further development of this field of work.
From an initial set of several thousand articles, only 391 were identified as relevant to the focus of inquiry. Of these, 164 were selected for detailed review because they present empirical analyses of health policy change processes within LMIC settings. Examination of these articles clearly shows that LMIC health policy analysis is still in its infancy. There are only small numbers of such analyses, whilst the diversity of policy areas, topics and analytical issues that have been addressed across a large number of country settings results in a limited depth of coverage within this body of work. In addition, the majority of articles are largely descriptive in nature, limiting understanding of policy change processes within or across countries. Nonetheless, the broad features of experience that can be identified from these articles clearly confirm the importance of integrating concern for politics, process and power into the study of health policy. By generating understanding of the factors influencing the experience and results of policy change, such analysis can inform action to strengthen future policy development and implementation. This article, finally, outlines five key actions needed to strengthen the field of health policy analysis within LMICs, including capacity development and efforts to generate systematic and coherent bodies of work underpinned by both the intent to undertake rigorous analytical work and concern to support policy change.
PMCID: PMC2515407  PMID: 18650209
Health policy; policy analysis; methods
19.  Public-sector Maternal Health Programmes and Services for Rural Bangladesh 
Achieving Millennium Development Goal 5 in Bangladesh calls for an appreciation of the evolution of maternal healthcare within the national health system to date plus a projection of future needs. This paper assesses the development of maternal health services and policies by reviewing policy and strategy documents since the independence in 1971, with primary focus on rural areas where three-fourths of the total population of Bangladesh reside. Projections of need for facilities and human resources are based on the recommended standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1996 and 2005. Although maternal healthcare services are delivered from for-profit and not-for-profit (NGO) subsectors, this paper is focused on maternal healthcare delivery by public subsector. Maternal healthcare services in the public sector of Bangladesh have been guided by global policies (e.g. Health for All by the Year 2000), national policies (e.g. population and health policy), and plans (e.g. five- or three-yearly). The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), through its two wings—Health Services and Family Planning—sets policies, develops implementation plans, and provides rural public-health services. Since 1971, the health infrastructure has developed though not in a uniform pattern and despite policy shifts over time. Under the Family Planning wing of the MoHFW, the number of Maternal and Child Welfare Centres has not increased but new services, such as caesarean-section surgery, have been integrated. The Health Services wing of the MoHFW has ensured that all district-level public-health facilities, e.g. district hospitals and medical colleges, can provide comprehensive essential obstetric care (EOC) and have targeted to upgrade 132 of 407 rural Upazila Health Complexes to also provide such services. In 2001, they initiated a programme to train the Government's community workers (Family Welfare Assistants and Female Health Assistants) to provide skilled birthing care in the home. However, these plans have been too meagre, and their implementation is too weak to fulfill expectations in terms of the MDG 5 indicator—increased use of skilled birth attendants, especially for poor rural women. The use of skilled birth attendants, institutional deliveries, and use of caesarean section remain low and are increasing only slowly. All these indicators are substantially lower for those in the lower three socioeconomic quintiles. A wide variation exists in the availability of comprehensive EOC facilities in the public sector among the six divisions of the country. Rajshahi division has more facilities than the WHO 1996 standard (1 comprehensive EOC for 500,000 people) whereas Chittagong and Sylhet divisions have only 64% of their need for comprehensive EOC facilities. The WHO 2005 recommendation (1 comprehensive EOC for 3,500 births) suggests that there is a need for nearly five times the existing national number of comprehensive EOC facilities. Based on the WHO standard 2005, it is estimated that 9% of existing doctors and 40% of nurses/midwives were needed just for maternal healthcare in both comprehensive EOC and basic EOC facilities in 2007. While the inability to train and retain skilled professionals in rural areas is the major problem in implementation, the bifurcation of the MoHFW (Health Services and Family Planning wings) has led to duplication in management and staff for service-delivery, inefficiencies as a result of these duplications, and difficulties of coordination at all levels. The Government of Bangladesh needs to functionally integrate the Health Services and Family Planning wings, move towards a facility-based approach to delivery, ensure access to key maternal health services for women in the lower socioeconomic quintiles, consider infrastructure development based on the estimation of facilities using the WHO 1996 recommendation, and undertake a human resource-development plan based on the WHO 2005 recommendation.
PMCID: PMC2761780  PMID: 19489411
Maternal health; Maternal health services; Rural health services; Bangladesh
20.  Public, private and personal: Qualitative research on policymakers' opinions on smokefree interventions to protect children in 'private' spaces 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:797.
Governments use law to constrain aspects of private activities for purposes of protecting health and social wellbeing. Policymakers have a range of perceptions and beliefs about what is public or private. An understanding of the possible drivers of policymaker decisions about where government can or should intervene for health is important, as one way to better guide appropriate policy formation. Our aim was to identify obstacles to, and opportunities for, government smokefree regulation of private and public spaces to protect children. In particular, to seek policymaker opinions on the regulation of smoking in homes, cars and public parks and playgrounds in a country with incomplete smokefree laws (New Zealand).
Case study, using structured interviews to ask policymakers (62 politicians and senior officials) about their opinions on new smokefree legislation for public and private places. Supplementary data was obtained from the Factiva media database, on the views of New Zealand local authority councillors about policies for smokefree outdoor public places.
Overall, interviewees thought that government regulation of smoking in private places was impractical and unwise. However, there were some differences on what was defined as 'private', particularly for cars. Even in public parks, smoking was seen by some as a 'personal' decision, and unlikely to be amenable to regulation. Most participants believed that educative, supportive and community-based measures were better and more practical means of reducing smoking in private places, compared to regulation.
The constrained view of the role of regulation of smoking in public and private domains may be in keeping with current political discourse in New Zealand and similar Anglo-American countries. Policy and advocacy options to promote additional smokefree measures include providing a better voice for childrens' views, increasing information to policymakers about the harms to children from secondhand smoke and the example of adult smoking, and changing the culture for smoking around children.
PMCID: PMC3022865  PMID: 21194440
21.  Projections of Global Mortality and Burden of Disease from 2002 to 2030 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(11):e442.
Global and regional projections of mortality and burden of disease by cause for the years 2000, 2010, and 2030 were published by Murray and Lopez in 1996 as part of the Global Burden of Disease project. These projections, which are based on 1990 data, continue to be widely quoted, although they are substantially outdated; in particular, they substantially underestimated the spread of HIV/AIDS. To address the widespread demand for information on likely future trends in global health, and thereby to support international health policy and priority setting, we have prepared new projections of mortality and burden of disease to 2030 starting from World Health Organization estimates of mortality and burden of disease for 2002. This paper describes the methods, assumptions, input data, and results.
Methods and Findings
Relatively simple models were used to project future health trends under three scenarios—baseline, optimistic, and pessimistic—based largely on projections of economic and social development, and using the historically observed relationships of these with cause-specific mortality rates. Data inputs have been updated to take account of the greater availability of death registration data and the latest available projections for HIV/AIDS, income, human capital, tobacco smoking, body mass index, and other inputs. In all three scenarios there is a dramatic shift in the distribution of deaths from younger to older ages and from communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional causes to noncommunicable disease causes. The risk of death for children younger than 5 y is projected to fall by nearly 50% in the baseline scenario between 2002 and 2030. The proportion of deaths due to noncommunicable disease is projected to rise from 59% in 2002 to 69% in 2030. Global HIV/AIDS deaths are projected to rise from 2.8 million in 2002 to 6.5 million in 2030 under the baseline scenario, which assumes coverage with antiretroviral drugs reaches 80% by 2012. Under the optimistic scenario, which also assumes increased prevention activity, HIV/AIDS deaths are projected to drop to 3.7 million in 2030. Total tobacco-attributable deaths are projected to rise from 5.4 million in 2005 to 6.4 million in 2015 and 8.3 million in 2030 under our baseline scenario. Tobacco is projected to kill 50% more people in 2015 than HIV/AIDS, and to be responsible for 10% of all deaths globally. The three leading causes of burden of disease in 2030 are projected to include HIV/AIDS, unipolar depressive disorders, and ischaemic heart disease in the baseline and pessimistic scenarios. Road traffic accidents are the fourth leading cause in the baseline scenario, and the third leading cause ahead of ischaemic heart disease in the optimistic scenario. Under the baseline scenario, HIV/AIDS becomes the leading cause of burden of disease in middle- and low-income countries by 2015.
These projections represent a set of three visions of the future for population health, based on certain explicit assumptions. Despite the wide uncertainty ranges around future projections, they enable us to appreciate better the implications for health and health policy of currently observed trends, and the likely impact of fairly certain future trends, such as the ageing of the population, the continued spread of HIV/AIDS in many regions, and the continuation of the epidemiological transition in developing countries. The results depend strongly on the assumption that future mortality trends in poor countries will have a relationship to economic and social development similar to those that have occurred in the higher-income countries.
The presented projections suggest a dramatic shift in the distribution of deaths from younger to older ages and from communicable, maternal, perinatal, and nutritional causes to non-communicable disease causes. HIV/AIDS and tobacco remain major killers and possible targets for intervention.
Editors' Summary
For most of human history, little has been known about the main causes of illness in different countries and which diseases kill most people. But public-health officials need to know whether heart disease kills more people than cancer in their country, for example, or whether diabetes causes more disability than mental illness so that they can use their resources wisely. They also have to have some idea about how patterns of illness (morbidity) and death (mortality) are likely to change so that they can plan for the future. In the early 1990s, the World Bank sponsored the 1990 Global Burden of Disease study carried out by researchers at Harvard University and the World Health Organization (WHO). This study provided the first comprehensive, global estimates of death and illness by age, sex, and region. It also provided projections of the global burden of disease and mortality up to 2020 using models that assumed that health trends are related to a set of independent variables. These variables were income per person (as people become richer, they, live longer), average number of years of education (as this “human capital” increases, so does life expectancy), time (to allow for improved knowledge about various diseases), and tobacco use (a major global cause of illness and death).
Why Was This Study Done?
These health projections have been widely used by WHO and governments to help them plan their health policies. However, because they are based on the 1990 estimates of the global burden of disease, the projections now need updating, particularly since they underestimate the spread of HIV/AIDS and the associated increase in death from tuberculosis. In this study, the researchers used similar methods to those used in the 1990 Global Burden of Disease study to prepare new projections of mortality and burden of disease up to 2030 starting from the 2002 WHO global estimates of mortality and burden of disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
As before, the researchers used projections of socio-economic development to model future patterns of mortality and illness for a baseline scenario, a pessimistic scenario that assumed a slower rate of socio-economic development, and an optimistic scenario that assumed a faster rate of growth. Their analysis predicts that between 2002 and 2030 for all three scenarios life expectancy will increase around the world, fewer children younger than 5 years will die, and the proportion of people dying from non-communicable diseases such as heart disease and cancer will increase. Although deaths from infectious diseases will decrease overall, HIV/AIDS deaths will continue to increase; the exact magnitude of the increase will depend on how many people have access to antiretroviral drugs and the efficacy of prevention programs. But, even given the rise in HIV/AIDS deaths, the new projections predict that more people will die of tobacco-related disease than of HIV/AIDS in 2015. The researchers also predict that by 2030, the three leading causes of illness will be HIV/AIDS, depression, and ischaemic heart disease (problems caused by a poor blood supply to the heart) in the baseline and pessimistic scenarios; in the optimistic scenario, road-traffic accidents will replace heart disease as the third leading cause (there will be more traffic accidents with faster economic growth).
What Do These Findings Mean?
The models used by the researchers provide a wealth of information about possible patterns of global death and illness between 2002 and 2030, but because they include many assumptions, like all models, they can provide only indications of future trends, not absolute figures. For example, based on global mortality data from 2002, the researchers estimate that global deaths in 2030 will be 64.9 million under the optimistic scenario. However, the actual figure may be quite a bit bigger or smaller because accurate baseline counts of deaths were not available for every country in the world. Another limitation of the study is that the models used assume that future increases in prosperity in developing countries will affect their population's health in the same way as similar increases affected health in the past in countries with death registration data (these are mostly developed countries). However, even given these and other limitations, the projections reported in this study provide useful insights into the future health of the world. These can now be used by public-health officials to plan future policy and to monitor the effect of new public-health initiatives on the global burden of disease and death.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
World Health Organization, provides information on the Global Burden of Disease Project and links to other related resources Global Burden of Disease Project
Harvard School of Public Health, Burden of Disease Unit, offers information on the 1990 Global Burden of Disease study and its projections Harvard School of Public Health
PMCID: PMC1664601  PMID: 17132052
22.  Global influences on milk purchasing in New Zealand – implications for health and inequalities 
Economic changes and policy reforms, consistent with economic globalization, in New Zealand in the mid-1980s, combined with the recent global demand for dairy products, particularly from countries undergoing a 'nutrition transition', have created an environment where a proportion of the New Zealand population is now experiencing financial difficulty purchasing milk. This situation has the potential to adversely affect health.
Similar to other developed nations, widening income disparities and health inequalities have resulted from economic globalization in New Zealand; with regard to nutrition, a proportion of the population now faces food poverty. Further, rates of overweight/obesity and chronic diseases have increased in recent decades, primarily affecting indigenous people and lower socio-economic groups. Economic globalization in New Zealand has changed the domestic milk supply with regard to the consumer and may shed light on the link between globalization, nutrition and health outcomes. This paper describes the economic changes in New Zealand, specifically in the dairy market and discusses how these changes have the potential to create inequalities and adverse health outcomes. The implications for the success of current policy addressing chronic health outcomes is discussed, alternative policy options such as subsidies, price controls or alteration of taxation of recommended foods relative to 'unhealthy' foods are presented and the need for further research is considered.
Changes in economic ideology in New Zealand have altered the focus of policy development, from social to commercial. To achieve equity in health and improve access to social determinants of health, such as healthy nutrition, policy-makers must give consideration to health outcomes when developing and implementing economic policy, both national and global.
PMCID: PMC2672082  PMID: 19152688
23.  The Role of Health Systems Factors in Facilitating Access to Psychotropic Medicines: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the WHO-AIMS in 63 Low- and Middle-Income Countries 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(1):e1001166.
In a cross-sectional analysis of WHO-AIMS data, Ryan McBain and colleagues investigate the associations between health system components and access to psychotropic drugs in 63 low and middle income countries.
Neuropsychiatric conditions comprise 14% of the global burden of disease and 30% of all noncommunicable disease. Despite the existence of cost-effective interventions, including administration of psychotropic medicines, the number of persons who remain untreated is as high as 85% in low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs). While access to psychotropic medicines varies substantially across countries, no studies to date have empirically investigated potential health systems factors underlying this issue.
Methods and Findings
This study uses a cross-sectional sample of 63 LAMICs and country regions to identify key health systems components associated with access to psychotropic medicines. Data from countries that completed the World Health Organization Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS) were included in multiple regression analyses to investigate the role of five major mental health systems domains in shaping medicine availability and affordability. These domains are: mental health legislation, human rights implementations, mental health care financing, human resources, and the role of advocacy groups. Availability of psychotropic medicines was associated with features of all five mental health systems domains. Most notably, within the domain of mental health legislation, a comprehensive national mental health plan was associated with 15% greater availability; and in terms of advocacy groups, the participation of family-based organizations in the development of mental health legislation was associated with 17% greater availability. Only three measures were related with affordability of medicines to consumers: level of human resources, percentage of countries' health budget dedicated to mental health, and availability of mental health care in prisons. Controlling for country development, as measured by the Human Development Index, health systems features were associated with medicine availability but not affordability.
Results suggest that strengthening particular facets of mental health systems might improve availability of psychotropic medicines and that overall country development is associated with affordability.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Mental disorders—conditions that involve impairment of thinking, emotions, and behavior—are extremely common. Worldwide, mental illness affects about 450 million people and accounts for 13.5% of the global burden of disease. About one in four people will have a mental health problem at some time in their life. For some people, this will be a short period of mild depression, anxiety, or stress. For others, it will be a serious, long-lasting condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. People with mental health problems need help and support from professionals and from their friends and families to help them cope with their illness but are often discriminated against, which can make their illness worse. Treatments include counseling and psychotherapy (talking therapies), and psychotropic medicines—drugs that act mainly on the brain. Left untreated, many people with serious mental illnesses commit suicide.
Why Was This Study Done?
About 80% of people with mental illnesses live in low- and middle-income countries (LAMICs) where up to 85% of patients remain untreated. Access to psychotropic medicines, which constitute an essential and cost-effective component in the treatment of mental illnesses, is particularly poor in many LAMICs. To improve this situation, it is necessary to understand what health systems factors limit the availability and affordability of psychotropic drugs; a health system is the sum of all the organizations, institutions, and resources that act together to improve health. In this cross-sectional study, the researchers look for associations between specific health system components and access to psychotropic medicines by analyzing data collected from LAMICs using the World Health Organization's Assessment Instrument for Mental Health Systems (WHO-AIMS). A cross-sectional study analyzes data collected at a single time. WHO-AIMS, which was created to evaluate mental health systems primarily in LAMICs, is a 155-item survey that Ministries of Health and other country-based agencies can use to collect information on mental health indicators.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used WHO-AIMS data from 63 countries/country regions and multiple regression analysis to evaluate the role of mental health legislation, human rights implementation, mental health care financing, human resources, and advocacy in shaping medicine availability and affordability. For each of these health systems domains, the researchers developed one or more summary measurements. For example, they measured financing as the percentage of government health expenditure directed toward mental health. Availability of psychotropic medicines was defined as the percentage of mental health facilities in which at least one psychotropic medication for each therapeutic category was always available. Affordability was measured by calculating the percentage of daily minimum wage needed to purchase medicine by the average consumer. The availability of psychotropic medicines was related to features of all five mental health systems domains, report the researchers. Notably, having a national mental health plan (part of the legislation domain) and the participation (advocacy) of family-based organizations in mental health legislation formulation were associated with 15% and 17% greater availability of medicines, respectively. By contrast, only the levels of human resources and financing, and the availability of mental health care in prisons (part of the human rights domain) were associated with the affordability of psychotropic medicines. Once overall country development was taken into account, most of the associations between health systems factors and medicine availability remained significant, while the associations between health systems factors and medicine affordability were no longer significant. In part, this was because country development was more strongly associated with affordability and explained most of the relationships: for example, countries with greater overall development have higher expenditures on mental health and greater medicine affordability compared to availability.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that access to psychotropic medicines in LAMICs is related to key components within the mental health systems of these countries but that availability and affordability are affected to different extents by these components. They also show that country development plays a strong role in determining affordability but has less effect on determining availability. Because cross-sectional data were used in this study, these findings only indicate associations; they do not imply causality. They are also limited by the relatively small number of observations included in this study, by the methods used to collect mental health systems data in many LAMICs, and by the possibility that some countries may have reported biased results. Despite these limitations, these findings suggest that strengthening specific mental health system features may be an important way to facilitate access to psychotropic medicines but also highlight the role that country wealth and development play in promoting the treatment of mental disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001166.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of mental health (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information on mental health; its Live Well feature provides practical advice on dealing with mental health problems and personal stories
The UK charity Mind provides further information about mental illness, including personal stories
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on mental health (in English and Spanish)
Information on WHO-AIMS, including versions of the instrument in several languages, and WHO-AIMS country reports are available
PMCID: PMC3269418  PMID: 22303288
24.  Cycling and walking to work in New Zealand, 1991-2006: regional and individual differences, and pointers to effective interventions 
Active commuting increases levels of physical activity and is more likely to be adopted and sustained than exercise programmes. Despite the potential health, environmental, social and economic benefits, cycling and walking are increasingly marginal modes of transport in many countries. This paper investigated regional and individual differences in cycling and walking to work in New Zealand over the 15-year period (1991-2006).
New Zealand Census data (collected every five years) were accessed to analyse self-reported information on the "main means of travel to work" from individuals aged 15 years and over who are usually resident and employed in New Zealand. This analysis investigated differences in patterns of active commuting to work stratified by region, age, gender and personal income.
In 2006, over four-fifths of New Zealanders used a private vehicle, one in fourteen walked and one in forty cycled to work. Increased car use from 1991 to 2006 occurred at the expense of active means of travel as trends in public transport use remained unchanged during that period. Of the 16 regions defined at meshblock and area unit level, Auckland had the lowest prevalence of cycling and walking. In contrast to other regions, walking to work increased in Wellington and Nelson, two regions which have made substantial investments in local infrastructure to promote active transport. Nationally, cycling prevalence declined with age whereas a U-shaped trend was observed for walking. The numbers of younger people cycling to work and older people walking to work declined substantially from 1991 to 2006. Higher proportions of men compared with women cycled to work. The opposite was true for walking with an increasing trend observed in women aged under 30 years. Walking to work was less prevalent among people with higher income.
We observed a steady decline in cycling and walking to work from 1991 to 2006, with two regional exceptions. This together with the important differences in travel patterns by age, gender and personal income highlights opportunities to target and modify transport policies in order to promote active commuting.
PMCID: PMC2754975  PMID: 19765318
25.  Massage Therapy and Canadians’ Health Care Needs 2020: Proceedings of a National Research Priority Setting Summit 
The health care landscape in Canada is changing rapidly as forces, such as an aging population, increasingly complex health issues and treatments, and economic pressure to reduce health care costs, bear down on the system. A cohesive national research agenda for massage therapy (MT) is needed in order to ensure maximum benefit is derived from research on treatment, health care policy, and cost effectiveness.
A one-day invitational summit was held in Toronto, Ontario to build strategic alliances among Canadian and international researchers, policy makers, and other stakeholders to help shape a national research agenda for MT.
Using a modified Delphi method, the summit organizers conducted two pre-summit surveys to ensure that time spent during the summit was relevant and productive. The summit was facilitated using the principles of Appreciative Inquiry which included a “4D” strategic planning approach (defining, discovery, dreaming, designing) and application of a SOAR framework (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results).
Twenty-six researchers, policymakers, and other stakeholders actively participated in the events.
Priority topics that massage therapists believe are important to the Canadian public, other health care providers, and policy makers and massage therapists themselves were identified. A framework for a national massage therapy (MT) research agenda, a grand vision of the future for MT research, and a 12-month action plan were developed.
The summit provided an excellent opportunity for key stakeholders to come together and use their experience and knowledge of MT to develop a much-needed plan for moving the MT research and professionalization agenda forward.
PMCID: PMC3934855  PMID: 24592299
massage therapy; research; Delphi method; methodology; conference

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