Addressing equity in implementation – learning from our successes



TYPE Prevention Centre News

More than 100 researchers, policy makers and practitioners attended the workshop at the PHAA Preventive Health Conference in Darwin on 2 May 2024. Attendees highlighted system barriers faced by policy makers and practitioners when trying to build an equity focus into their work, including rigid organisational structures, lack of political will, siloed systems, and a lack of time, training and resources.

We know that addressing equity in chronic disease prevention policy and practice is crucial to improve health outcomes for all Australians. Critically, if we don’t do this when we deliver evidence-based prevention approaches, then we risk exacerbating health disparities.

Nadia Mastersson

However, attendees noted that when organisations have suitable policies in place, as well as supportive authorising environments, transparency and adequate funding, they were able to focus more effectively on equity when they implemented evidence-based interventions.

Participants said a key enabler was partnerships with communities, with enough time to build trustful, enduring relationships and to listen deeply to diverse perspectives. Community input and co-design were also seen as crucial in addressing equity issues.

The workshop drew on a knowledge synthesis of implementation research conducted by members of the Collaboration for Enhanced Research Impact, which provides policy makers and practitioners with evidence and tools to more effectively implement evidence-based interventions.

Speaking at the workshop, Dr Cassandra Lane of the National Centre of Implementation Science highlighted the importance of ‘proportionate universalism’ in implementation – ensuring health programs and services meet the needs of priority populations while retaining their population-level health impact. She presented a range of evidence and tools to support policy makers and practitioners to address this issue.

What is common across all guidance and frameworks is the need to identify causal mechanisms influencing implementation in priority settings – the barriers and facilitators, and contextual factors, influencing implementation.

Dr Cassandra Lane

Dr Scott Winch, Director of Aboriginal Health at the Sax Institute, told the workshop of the need to consider Indigenous-led design, community input, and the potential impact of the policy, program or strategy on Aboriginal people including approaches to mitigate any potential undesired effects.

Professor James Smith, Deputy Dean Rural and Remote Health and Professor of Health and Social Equity at Flinders University, presented several success stories from his work at the nexus of research policy and practice, highlighting the importance of context, place and relationality for supporting priority populations.

Implementation research knowledge synthesis

This knowledge synthesis teased out the policy-relevant implications of implementation research from The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre and several members of the Collaboration for Enhanced Research Impact (CERI).

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