Skip to main content
European Commission logo print header

DRIVERS: Addressing the strategic Determinants to Reduce health Inequality Via 1) Early childhood development, 2) Realising fair employment, and 3) Social protection

Article Category

Article available in the following languages:

Solutions to improve health equity

Health inequalities are systematic differences in health between social groups, which are persistent between and within countries despite action to reduce them. An EU-funded initiative co-ordinated by EuroHealthNet examined these inequalities and put forward solutions to reduce them for policy and practice in early childhood, employment and working conditions, and income and social protection.

Health icon Health

The World Health Organization has previously identified early childhood, employment and working conditions, and income and social protection as key areas where policy and practice can reduce health inequalities. While much is known about associations between various factors and health inequalities, much less is known about solutions for tackling them. The EU-funded project DRIVERS (DRIVERS: Addressing the strategic determinants to reduce health inequality via 1) early childhood development, 2) realising fair employment, and 3) social protection), co-ordinated by EuroHealthNet, aimed to fill gaps in knowledge by analysing factors that shape the existence of health inequalities, practices that aim to reduce them, and put forward recommendations for policy, practice and research. Scientific partners from leading centres of research began by identifying and filling key gaps in knowledge concerning social determinants of health and policies that contribute to the existence of health inequalities. This was accomplished mainly through systematic reviews, meta-analyses and novel data analyses using pan-European data. Existing research methodologies for assessing policy outcomes on health were evaluated and the team assessed how research findings apply to real-life settings. Nineteen case studies looked at early child development, employment and working conditions, income and social protection, and specific examples of advocacy for health equity, to explore the findings of systematic reviews and data analyses; these case studies mostly used qualitative methods and involved partners from civil society, public health and business. The aim was to identify services, policies and practices that have the potential to reduce inequalities in health, improve the social determinants of health, and improve effective methods of advocacy for health equity. Researchers consulted a broad range of stakeholders in order to produce a series policy briefs, overarching principles for policy and practice to reduce health inequalities, and an expanded evidence base on effective advocacy for health equity. Numerous papers were published by the scientific teams in leading open access peer-reviewed journals, alongside public reports. DRIVERS outcomes should feed into future research, policy and practice dealing with the three DRIVERS areas. As such, the project aimed to play an important part in contributing to improved health equity.


Health inequalities, early child development, employment, working conditions, income, social protection, welfare, health equity, advocacy, social determinants of health

Discover other articles in the same domain of application