Health inequalities: a Research Positioning Exercise at the National Institute of Health, Italy

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BACKGROUND: The Italian National Institute of Health (Istituto Superiore di Sanità, ISS) considers health inequalities (HI) an important area of activity. As the scientific and technical body of the Ministry of Health and the National Health Service, ISS may play a key role to reduce HI. In order to enable ISS in addressing the new and crucial HI challenge, a Research Positioning Exercise was designed and implemented.

METHODS: The Exercise included: (i) workshop to strengthen the institutional interest in the field of HI; (ii) review and analysis of ISS publications (years 2000-2017) to identify HI research topics; (iii) survey among ISS researchers regarding main research challenges to address HI in the coming years; and (iv) analysis of input on research challenges from HI international experts.

RESULTS: The results of this Exercise suggest that the following points should be included in the future ISS agenda planning: (i) themes which ISS should continue working on (e.g. migrants/vulnerable groups); (ii) themes to be improved: (a) relationship between social determinants and mechanism of HI generation and (b) relationship between risk factors exposure and social determinants; and (iii) new themes to be addressed: (a) mechanisms underlying the resilience observed in Italy; (b) new socioeconomic indicators for HI monitoring; and (c) evidence-based policies aimed at reducing HI.

CONCLUSION: Findings of this Exercise show that ISS researchers identified relevant areas, addressing inequalities in addressing the health. Because of ISS structural peculiarity that includes multidisciplinary expertise, the ISS could provide a significant contribution to HI research challenges and knowledge gaps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-947
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Health inequalities


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