Research Recap. Vol 3

Summer has been busy in the research world. Seems like the time when people are able to sit down and put pen to paper on the ideas that have been hatching during the academic year.

There are lots of papers to talk about but here are a few. First, Stephen John writes about Rose’s prevention paradox and the importance of trying to solve it. (Why the prevention paradox is a paradox, and why we should solve it: A philosophical view in Preventive Medicine)


This paper provides some philosophical comments on Rose’s prevention paradox, suggesting why that paradox seems so difficult, and why policy-makers should care about solving it. The assumptions underlying the paradox section sets out two ways of understanding the notion of “benefit” in public health programmes, and shows how the prevention paradox arises from combining both understandings. Thinking through the paradox section argues that if we find the second understanding of benefit appealing, then we should rethink how we typically assess preventive public health measures. Implications section shows how these theoretical arguments imply that public health practitioners should care about solving the prevention paradox, rather than simply denying the legitimacy of one of the two views from which it arises.

Second, and related to the ‘Spirit Level debated post,’ from Clare Bambra, “Health inequalities and welfare state regimes: theorietical insights on a public health ‘puzzle’ (J Epidemiol Community Health 2011;65:740-745 doi:10.1136/jech.2011.13633). Woot to JECH for being open access and congrats to Jim Dunn who has taken on the role of co-editor in chief of JECH. Good things to come I’m sure. 


Welfare states are important determinants of health. Comparative social epidemiology has almost invariably concluded that population health is enhanced by the relatively generous and universal welfare provision of the Scandinavian countries. However, most international studies of socioeconomic inequalities in health have thrown up something of a public health ‘puzzle’ as the Scandinavian welfare states do not, as would generally be expected, have the smallest health inequalities. This essay outlines and interrogates this puzzle by drawing upon existing theories of health inequalities—artefact, selection, cultural–behavioural, materialist, psychosocial and life course—to generate some theoretical insights. It discusses the limits of these theories in respect to cross-national research; it questions the focus and normative paradigm underpinning contemporary comparative health inequalities research; and it considers the future of comparative social epidemiology.

Check out these two papers. Worth a read. There’s also an interesting discussion the ‘Glasgow effect’ in Public Health. If health inequities is your thing that is worth a read too.

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