Companion publication

The companion publication is intended to give policy advisers, entrepreneurs and those who work within health systems a better understanding of the key issues related to taking action on socially-determined health inequalities. It is based on a review of 15 examples of health systems action which are included or being developed for inclusion in the web-based resource.

The publication aims to show how to systematically use and generate evidence-informed options for action from the knowledge contained in the 15 examples or case studies. Here the case studies are used as a source of data rather than as exemplars. This means that the examples are not written in chronological order or as story and each section can be read separately.

The publication also contains a checklist of generic principles that can be put into practice or used to review the examples of health system actions. It can assist you to design and develop your own policy response. However, the checklist is not intended to be followed unwaveringly like a prescription or a recipe. It has been designed to enable you to:

  • check that the information collected from each example adequately addresses or answers each of the principles, after it has been collated; and/or
  • to review proposed options for health system action on socially determined health inequalities (SDHI) prior to implementation, in order to check that the options adequately address each of the principles .

It is intended to stimulate new approaches and interpretations within an individual health system context. Thus, the checklist can be used to interrogate, evaluate and better understand examples of action, so that these examples can be adapted and reshaped to achieve a better fit with prevailing circumstances of the particular health system. 

This is not to imply that ticking off each of the principles means we will get it right – this is not the ultimate goal. Policy (particularly health and social) responses involve a degree of uncertainty and complexity, and therefore there are issues, which while they seem obvious (e.g., was the problem correctly defined) are important enough to include in a checklist, so that they are not overlooked. The principles in the companion publication are thus proposed as a checklist. The aim is to ensure we do not forget to take the obvious but core steps (1) in creating an evidence-informed foundation for development of health systems actions on SDHI.

We therefore recommend you read and use the checklist in the companion publication in conjunction with the web-based resource.


1. Gawande A. The checklist manifesto. How to get things right. London, Profile books, 2010.