The GRADIENT project aims to evaluate and recommend policy options which address the gradients in health determinants and reduce health inequalities among families and children. The main objectives are to develop a consensus based European Framework to monitor and evaluate public health policies, to assess if and why children and families from different socio-economic groups respond and act differently to public policy interventions, to make a review of protective factors for the health of children and young people and their families focusing on social capital, and to analyse different welfare regimes and general policies in different EU countries and compare the impact for families and children. Findings and results of the project are formulated into policy recommendations and disseminated at EU, national and regional level.[+] Read More
In all EU countries there is a systematic correlation between the level of health and social status - a step-wise decrease in health that comes with decreasing social position. This correlation exists amongst children and young people as well as amongst adults. These social gradients in health are harmful and unjust, particularly when it comes to children and young people, since adversity during the early years negatively impacts on health across the life-course. This also means that the majority of children growing up in the EU are falling short of achieving their full health potential.
The GRADIENT project has the overall goal of identifying what measures can be taken to level-up the socio-economic gradients in health among children and young people in the EU.
The GRADIENT project has generated a number of important findings and outcomes that can contribute to learning and action on how to level-up the health gradient among children and young people.
While governments and other actors in the EU increasingly recognize the need for action on health inequalities, the focus remains on improving conditions of the poorest segments of society, rather than looking across the gradient and at the large numbers of children and youth whose health is worse than it could be. Gradients in health reflect the systematic nature of the association between socio-economic status and health status, and therefore highlight the unjustness of this situation; people who are comparatively less well-off do not, by and large, choose to live in ways that undermine their health.
Health inequalities amongst children and young people are particularly unjust in light of the large body of evidence that reveals that the adverse effects of disadvantage on health in the early years is compounded over the life-course. Even where people who grew up under difficult circumstances manage to do better in later life, they will still have poorer health than their counterparts who grew up under better conditions. The GRADIENT project therefore looked at different aspects of what can be done to improve this situation. It is clear that the solutions do not lie in measures that focus exclusively on health, since a very wide range of policies impact upon their lives.
The project findings and results have been brought together in the book “The Right Start to a Healthy Life” (220 pages ISBN: 978-2-8052-0162-2).
The Gradient Evaluation Framework (GEF) is an action-oriented policy tool that can be applied to assess whether policies will contribute to greater health equity amongst children and their families
A ‘light’app for policy evaluation (the GRADIENT Check) has been developed and is available online on www.gradient-evaluation.eu. The application is ready to use on IPhones and Android smart phones and also available from the App store and Google Play.