Aiding empirical research on the commercial determinants of health: a scoping review of lobbying research
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University of Melbourne, Australia
The University of Melbourne, Australia
The University of Queensland, Australia
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1770
Background and Objective: Challenging the influence of powerful commercial actors on health requires a deeper understanding of corporate political activities. This project explores political science scholarship analysing lobbying to identify new datasets and research methodsthat can be applied to public health and stimulate further research and advocacy. Methods: We undertook a systematic scoping review of peer-reviewed and grey literature reports analysing lobbying. Titles and abstracts of 4533 peer-reviewed and 285 grey literature reports were screened, with 233 peer-reviewed and 280 grey literature reports assessed for eligibility. We used a two-stage process for data extraction. In stage one, we collected information about data sources and indicators used to measure lobbying. In stage two, we extracted data from 16 studies that focused on meetings. Results: The most common indicators used to measure lobbying activity were: registrations of active lobbyists; expenditure on lobbying; meetings; written comments and submissions made to government consultations; bills; and committee participation. A range of data sources were used to analyse lobbying, including from governments, not-for-profits and commercial sources. All 16 studies analysing lobbyist meetings were from high-income countries. The studies analysed three key variables: the types of government actors targeted by lobbying; the policies of interest; and the lobbyists and/or their clients. The studies used a range of taxonomies to classify policy issues and the types of actors engaged in lobbying. All studies discussed challenges with accessing and analysing lobbying data. Conclusions: Political science scholarship offers many insights that can support public health research and advocacy concerned with the commercial determinants of health. This includes both conceptual frameworks and sources of empirical data. It is important for public health actors to advocate for government transparency and public integrity. Better political transparency will make it easier to monitor and take on the commercial determinants of health.