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      Evaluating the effect of income support policies on social health inequalities (SHIs) at birth in Montreal and Brussels using a contextualised comparative approach and model family method: a study protocol


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          Assessing the effects of social policies on social health inequalities (SHIs) is a complex issue. Variations in social policy between countries or regions provide natural experiments in policy implementation to perform comparative research. Comparisons are most enlightening when: the object of the evaluation is well defined (types of policies, population groups); the context of policy is analysed (history, implementation); the impact of policy on household poverty is outlined in detail; the influence of various factors (other than poverty) on SHI is taken into consideration.

          Methods and analysis

          This study aims to understand how income support policies (ISPs) in Brussels and Montreal influence the poverty level of households receiving social assistance, and how they are associated with SHI at birth. Two cases studies will be carried out from a comparative perspective. The analysis includes four stages : (1) The model family method will be used to compare ISPs and their impact on disposable income and poverty of households receiving social assistance in both regions. (2) Statistical analysis of administrative databases will enable the description and comparison of SHI in adverse pregnancy outcomes across the two regions. (3) Analysis of databases and documents will allow for description of various factors which are likely to interact with poverty and influence SHI at birth. (4) Based on the Diderichsen model, results from the previous stages will be used to formulate hypotheses about the mechanisms by which ISPs contribute to increasing or reducing SHI at birth in both regions.

          Ethics and dissemination

          This research was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee for Health research of Université de Montréal. In Belgium, the access to linked databases was approved by the Commission for the Protection of Privacy. Databases de-identified according to Belgian and Canadian legislation will be used. Results will be disseminated in scientific publications and will be shared with policy makers and field actors through collaborations with local organisations in Brussels and Montreal.

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          Most cited references51

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          Socioeconomic disparities in adverse birth outcomes: a systematic review.

          Adverse birth outcomes, such as preterm birth and low birth weight, have serious health consequences across the life course. Socioeconomic disparities in birth outcomes have not been the subject of a recent systematic review. The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature on the association of socioeconomic disadvantage with adverse birth outcomes, with specific attention to the strength and consistency of effects across socioeconomic measures, birth outcomes, and populations. Relevant articles published from 1999 to 2007 were obtained through electronic database searches and manual searches of reference lists. English-language studies from industrialized countries were included if (1) study objectives included examination of a socioeconomic disparity in a birth outcome and (2) results were presented on the association between a socioeconomic predictor and a birth outcome related to birth weight, gestational age, or intrauterine growth. Two reviewers extracted data and independently rated study quality; data were analyzed in 2008-2009. Ninety-three of 106 studies reported a significant association, overall or within a population subgroup, between a socioeconomic measure and a birth outcome. Socioeconomic disadvantage was consistently associated with increased risk across socioeconomic measures, birth outcomes, and countries; many studies observed racial/ethnic differences in the effect of socioeconomic measures. Socioeconomic differences in birth outcomes remain pervasive, with substantial variation by racial or ethnic subgroup, and are associated with disadvantage measured at multiple levels (individual/family, neighborhood) and time points (childhood, adulthood), and with adverse health behaviors that are themselves socially patterned. Future reviews should focus on identifying interventions to successfully reduce socioeconomic disparities in birth outcomes. 2010 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Is Income Inequality a Determinant of Population Health? Part 1. A Systematic Review

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              Health disparities beginning in childhood: a life-course perspective.

              In this article we argue for the utility of the life-course perspective as a tool for understanding and addressing health disparities across socioeconomic and racial or ethnic groups, particularly disparities that originate in childhood. Key concepts and terms used in life-course research are briefly defined; as resources, examples of existing literature and the outcomes covered are provided along with examples of longitudinal databases that have often been used for life-course research. The life-course perspective focuses on understanding how early-life experiences can shape health across an entire lifetime and potentially across generations; it systematically directs attention to the role of context, including social and physical context along with biological factors, over time. This approach is particularly relevant to understanding and addressing health disparities, because social and physical contextual factors underlie socioeconomic and racial/ethnic disparities in health. A major focus of life-course epidemiology has been to understand how early-life experiences (particularly experiences related to economic adversity and the social disadvantages that often accompany it) shape adult health, particularly adult chronic disease and its risk factors and consequences. The strong life-course influences on adult health could provide a powerful rationale for policies at all levels--federal, state, and local--to give more priority to investment in improving the living conditions of children as a strategy for improving health and reducing health disparities across the entire life course.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                17 September 2018
                : 8
                : 9
                : e024015
                [1 ] departmentDépartement de médecine sociale et préventive , Ecole de santé publique de l’Université de Montréal (ESPUM) , Montreal, Quebec, Canada
                [2 ] departmentEcole de santé publique , Université Libre de Bruxelles , Brussels, Belgium
                [3 ] departmentCentre de recherche Léa Roback sur les inégalités sociales de santé de Montréal , Université de Montréal , Montréal, Canada
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Mouctar Sow; mamadoumouctar.sow@ 123456umontreal.ca
                Author information
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2018. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

                : 08 May 2018
                : 01 June 2018
                : 04 June 2018
                Funded by: Lea Roback research Centre on social inequalities in health of Montreal;
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/501100002661, Fonds De La Recherche Scientifique - FNRS;
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100008240, Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Société et Culture;
                Public Health
                Custom metadata

                perinatal health inequalities,pregnancy outcomes,poverty,social policy,health impact assessment,natural experiments


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