Social sustainability of healthcare systems: a scoping review
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University of Pisa Department of Translational Research and New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy Health Science Interdisciplinary Research Centre, Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy Italy
Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies
Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies Italy
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A810
Sustainability of healthcare systems has become a central issue during recent years. However, most of the research that performed so far focuses on economic sustainability, overlooking other key dimensions such as social and environmental. A scoping review to synthesize the available evidence on social sustainability of healthcare systems was conducted.

We searched Scopus (from 2015 to 2022) for all English, free full text articles and reviews addressing social sustainability strategies and measures applied on or by the healthcare systems. We excluded articles that were not focused on healthcare systems WHO building blocks: health service delivery, health workforce, health information systems, access to essential medicine, health system financing, leadership and governance. Additionally, we separated the articles based on the criteria identified by the literature as measures of social sustainability in healthcare.

A total of 210 articles were retrieved. After screening, 34 articles met the inclusion criteria. Number of articles has increased over the past few years. The included studies explored the following dimensions of social sustainability in healthcare: 16 (47%) articles focused on sustainable health, 8 (23%) on patient education or satisfaction, 8 (23%) on workforce education, training or satisfaction, 5 (14%) on availability, affordability or accessibility, and 1 (3%) on employment.

Our scoping review has highlighted how research in recent years has focused on sustainable health issues. A minority share concerns sustainability through the assessment of human resources, patients wellbeing and healthcare building construction. Therefore, the findings of this study provides evidence about the necessity of designing a comprehensive, flexible framework to assess and program social sustainability of healthcare systems and programs, including dimensions of community activation and involvement.

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