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Examining the effectiveness of place-based interventions to improve public health and reduce health inequalities: an umbrella review

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

  • V.J. McGowan
  • S. Buckner
  • Rebecca Mead
  • E. McGill
  • S. Ronzi
  • F. Beyer
  • C. Bambra
Article number1888
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>19/10/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>BMC Public Health
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)1-17
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: Locally delivered, place-based public health interventions are receiving increasing attention as a way of improving health and reducing inequalities. However, there is limited evidence on their effectiveness. This
umbrella review synthesises systematic review evidence of the health and health inequalities impacts of locally delivered place-based interventions across three elements of place and health: the physical, social, and economic environments.
Methods: Systematic review methodology was used to identify recent published systematic reviews of the effectiveness of place-based interventions on health and health inequalities (PROGRESS+) in high-income countries. Nine databases were searched from 1st January 2008 to 1st March 2020. The quality of the included articles was determined using the Revised Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews tool (R-AMSTAR).
Results: Thirteen systematic reviews were identified - reporting 51 unique primary studies. Fifty of these studies reported on interventions that changed the physical environment and one reported on changes to the economic
environment. Only one primary study reported cost-effectiveness data. No reviews were identified that assessed the impact of social interventions. Given heterogeneity and quality issues, we found tentative evidence that the
provision of housing/home modifications, improving the public realm, parks and playgrounds, supermarkets, transport, cycle lanes, walking routes, and outdoor gyms – can all have positive impacts on health outcomes – particularly physical activity. However, as no studies reported an assessment of variation in PROGRESS+ factors, the effect of these interventions on health inequalities remains unclear.
Conclusions: Place-based interventions can be effective at improving physical health, health behaviours and social determinants of health outcomes. High agentic interventions indicate greater improvements for those living in
greater proximity to the intervention, which may suggest that in order for interventions to reduce inequalities, they should be implemented at a scale commensurate with the level of disadvantage. Future research needs to ensure
equity data is collected, as this is severely lacking and impeding progress on identifying interventions that are effective in reducing health inequalities.
Trial registration: PROSPERO CRD42019158309