How can health evidence be packaged to reach actors across a complex system to influence the development of healthy urban environments?
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Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom
School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
Institute for Policy Research, University of Bath, United Kingdom
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A167
Background and Objective: The urban environment is a key determinant of non-communicable diseases and health inequalities. It is shaped by the complex system of urban development that includes stakeholders across many sectors with different priorities and needs. Consequently, health outcomes are often subordinate to other agendas or overlooked in urban policymaking. We aimed to identify the most effective approaches to package health evidence for actors across the United Kingdom’s (UK) complex urban development system to put health at the forefront of decision-making. Methods: We applied a systems perspective to examine how evidence on non-communicable diseases and health inequalities can be translated and delivered to inform decision-making in a complex policy environment. We undertook 132 interviews exploring perceptions on how evidence can be communicated so that it lands with critical actors working to influence urban development in the UK. Participants included property developers, urban planners, real estate investors, policy experts, senior civil servants, and local government officials. Data were analysed using a mixed deductive-inductive coding approach and through thematic analysis to identify similarities and differences across stakeholder groups. Results: Findings reveal that creating evidence-based narratives that target actors’ emotions can reach actors across a complex system. Drawing on personal accounts helps to elicit an emotional response and bring heath data to life for a wide range of stakeholders. Demonstrating rigour and context are important for ensuring confidence in these narratives. Our analysis indicates that while variation in preferences for data exist, they appear to be determined more by personal values and data expertise than professional sector. Conclusions: A storytelling approach, supported by a range of data, should be considered to reach actors across a complex system with evidence on non-communicable diseases and inequalities and to bring them together to advance the creation of healthy urban environments.