UMCG-researchers participate in major research into factors determining health inequalities

The ECOTIP project aims to unravel the intricate and complex interaction between personal traits and characteristics, living conditions and the broader social and economic context. It has received a €4.0 million grant from the National Science Agenda, awarded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The consortium that will conduct research on this is led by Jessica Kiefte of LUMC; several UMCG-researchers are leading important and extensive sub-studies in this project.
ECOTIP project

Socioeconomically seemingly equal individuals and groups in the population still have different health and health perspectives. This indicates that current approaches and models in public health are incomplete. These models are therefore unable to accurately identify potential points of intervention for policymakers and (healthcare) professionals. The consortium recognised this impasse and the decades-long inability to solve so-called socioeconomic health disparities.

By introducing and applying the concept of ecosyndemics, it aims to break this impasse. An ecosyndemic characterises conditions (social, economic and also physical) that make several chronic diseases occur and reinforce each other. In other words 1+1=3 but in a negative sense.

From the Northern Netherlands, Jochen Mierau, Stefan Pichler, Oskar Roemeling and Erik Buskens participate in the consortium as (co-)project leaders. Mierau: 'At its core, we want to understand how it is possible that seemingly similar neighbourhoods and/or persons have different health profiles. Exactly what factors determine that there are individuals or parts of these neighbourhoods that stand out favorably. This is a new way of looking at health inequalities. It focuses mainly on the difference within a group. And this instead of comparing with more affluent neighbourhoods/persons. If we know where this is and what makes them less vulnerable, it offers enormous potential for policy steps aimed at improving public health.'

Several social partners from the Northern Netherlands such as municipalities, GGD, Accare child psychiatry and health insurers are also participating in the project.

The awarded projects from the National Science Agenda focus on questions from society, which form the substantive agenda of the NWA. The NWA encourages cooperation between various research institutions and other relevant societal partners.

You can read more about the awarded grant on the NWO website.