SOPHIE project underlines key role of neighbourhoods and urban planning to prevent health inequalities


The SOPHIE (Structural Policies for Health Inequalities Evaluation) project published its first results, showing a clear link between interventions on the urban environment and inhabitants’ health and well-being. This has been shown in Barcelona, Spain, following the entry into force of the Neighbourhoods Law.

The SOPHIE project aims to generate new evidence on the impact and effectiveness of structural policies in tackling health inequalities and to develop innovative methodologies for the evaluation of these policies in Europe.

More specifically, it helps:

  • Generate new evidence on how structural policies impact the determinants of health inequalities by socio-economic position, gender and migration status
  • Develop, refine and apply innovative methods for the evaluation of European, national and local policies
  • Increase the involvement of affected stakeholders in the identification and evaluation of policies to reduce inequalities

Doing so, it explores the links between health and neighbourhoods.

The project’s partners recently published a first paper underlining the link between Barcelona’s Neighbourhoods Law and the improvement of inhabitants’ self-perception of their health.

The Neighbourhoods Law, which was implemented between 2004 and 2011, aimed to improve the living conditions of citizens living in deprived areas of the city. Public parks were created, accessibility was improved and youth centres were created, among other actions. Evidence now show that these interventions helped improve the health of the inhabitants.

This improvement was equally found in men and women, and even in the field of mental health. Compared to neighbourhoods which did not benefit from the Law, it was found that self-perceived health status improved.

Researchers have concluded that projects that include better accessibility, walkability, social integration programmes and perception of security, among other interventions, are effective in improving the health of their residents.

To read more about the project, click here or watch their video here.

The paper they published on the Neighbourhoods Law is available here

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