Contrasting views on ways forward for health inequalities research

Katherine Smith, Kayleigh Garthwaite

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Drawing on over 100 interviews and fourteen focus groups with individuals involved in health inequalities research, policy, and advocacy, this chapter explores different actors’ perspectives on: the meaning of health inequalities; future research agendas; and opportunities to use research to promote more effective action to reduce health inequalities. It highlights how epistemological, disciplinary, and ideological preferences shape individuals’ perspectives on health inequalities research and challenges the idea that the use of evidence in decision-making can be a neutral, technical matter. Whilst the failure of ‘instrumental’ and ‘communicative’ efforts to achieve evidence-based policy suggests that accepting the political nature of democratic policymaking processes may be unavoidable, the chapter argues that this poses an important dilemma for health inequalities researchers: should (as many of the individuals involved suggested) health inequalities researchers do more to engage with public health ‘advocacy’ or does this risk the increasing politicization (and de-legitimization) of health inequalities research?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHealth Inequalities
Subtitle of host publicationCritical Perspectives
EditorsKatherine Smith, Clare Bambra, Sarah Hill
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9780198703358
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2015


  • health inequalities
  • research
  • policy
  • advocacy
  • interviews
  • focus groups
  • evidence-based policy
  • ideology
  • epistemology

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