Use of natural experiment for gambling related harm?

The issue

The cessation of gambling during the early stages of the COVID-19 response provides a potential avenue for understanding the impact of gambling on the region. Research suggests ‘natural experiments’ are a useful way to understand the impact of policy decisions and actions that occur in real time. However, there is little  understanding relating to the conduct and usefulness of applying a natural experiment design to evaluating and measuring complex issues like gambling-related harm. The challenge for natural experiments is adequately capturing the complex pathways between an ‘intervention’ (policy decision or action) and the various elements that might influence what this means for health, wellbeing, and equity.

 Context

Research has shown harms related to gambling reflect social and health inequalities, negative effects unequally distributed among economically and socially disadvantaged groups, and are commonly associated with a range of mental and physical health issues. Furthermore, evidence shows this group is more vulnerable to harmful gambling when experiencing financial distress or hardship, which is more prevalent during the pandemic. In 2017-18, total gambling turnover (i.e., the total amount wagered) in Australia was $218.9 billion.  During the first wave of COVID-19, Australians saved approximately $1.5 billion, which would otherwise have gone into pokie machines, due to the closure of pubs and clubs across the nation. The New South Wales (NSW) Government allowed clubs and pubs to reopen their gambling rooms on June 1, 2020. 

The project

The project involves conducting a rapid review of the literature to assess the appropriateness and usefulness of using natural experiment methodology to evaluate or measure gambling-related harm on health, wellbeing and health equity. The output of the project may be (a) a report; (b) a peer reviewed publication.

Contact

Patrick Harris or Andrew Reid

Social Infrastructure and health

The issue

Liverpool City Council is planning for the redevelopment of social infrastructure in Miller, South Western Sydney. Social infrastructure includes the delivery and maintenance of public services such as libraries, parks, swimming pools and community spaces. Social infrastructure planning is an opportunity for SWSLHD Population Health to collaborate with Liverpool City Council with a focus on the connections between health and wellbeing. The planning work provides an opportunity to build planning collaboration and research capacity, potentially centred around a Health Impact Assessment. The dual purpose of the collaboration is to provide evidence and information to inform the planning for Miller and to influence decisions within the Council about what to focus on in planning and investment.

The project

The project involves the development of a report describing the health impacts of social infrastructure/links between social infrastructure and health and wellbeing. This will be achieved through a literature review and grey literature analysis. 

Contacts 

Patrick Harris or Karla Jaques 

Pipelines and health

The issue

Nancy Bird-Walton International Airport in Western Sydney is to open in 2027. The economic potential of the airport and its aerotropolis have been spruiked since its first announcement. The health and social dimensions, however, have received less attention.

For the near foreseeable future, passenger and cargo aircraft require (A1 Jet) fuel. This fuel needs to be transported from its main port and storage facilities to the new airport, where further storage will be required to eventually refuel aircraft. The technicalities of this process are relatively straightforward.

Deloitte was asked to provide an analysis for the options to get fuel from Botany Bay and through the existing national pipeline network to the new airport. Their finding was that until the late 2030s it was more cost-efficient to truck the fuel across Greater Sydney. There are several issues with the fact that this recommendation seems to have been adopted by the relevant authorities. First, it does not take into account what collateral health and social effects of an increase in truck traffic would be. Second, it assumes a pipeline can still be built by the time it is needed; however, by that time the aerotropolis will surround the airport and pipeline construction may not be feasible anymore.

The project

A proper scoping (e.g., for or through an (equity-focused) Health Impact Assessment) of the various alternatives of fuel transport to the new airport is required. This could take various forms, including a literature review and grey literature analysis. Some deeper detective work and interviews with stakeholders may be required. The output of the project will be one or more peer-reviewed publications.

Contacts

Evelyne de Leeuw or Alana Crimeen

Greening – a practical guide and inventory

The issue

The evidence that access to green space is good for physical and mental health is clear and abundant. How to practically make such access happen, however, is problematic. First the green space needs to be there, and second, not everyone equitably embraces the opportunity to access green space and boost health.

There are plenty instructions and directions what the parameters for proper green healthy urban planning might look like, e.g., in the Healthy Urban Development Checklist. What is missing, perhaps, is a hands-on guide for different stakeholders (for instance, scaled between individuals – households – streets – communities – Councils – State or Commonwealth agents – etc.) what can be done to create, own and maintain access to green space. Recent examples include common backyards, greened laneways, and repurposed infrastructure.

The project

This project involves the development of a programme logic that shows the opportunity scales for creating and maintaining (access to and ownership of) green space in urban settings, and the collection of narrative and visual information that illustrates these opportunities at each level. The output of the project may be (a) a report; (b) a peer reviewed publication; (c) an infographic; and (c) a hands-on manual for green space enthusiasts.

Contacts

Evelyne de Leeuw or Jennie Pry (SWSLHD)

Has intersectorality increased?

The issue

The first time the term ‘intersectoral’ pops up in the literature is in 1970 when a WHO report on environmental health argues that more than just the healthcare delivery sector needs to be involved in sanitation and water management. WHO takes the argument to the next level in 1978 when the Declaration of Alma Ata on Primary Health Care unequivocally states that intersectoral action is a sine qua non for good primary health development and delivery. A lot of rhetoric followed. Some of the founders of CHETRE, Liz Harris and Marilyn Wise, took on the challenge and wrote a report in 1995 outlining conditions for the establishment of intersectoral cooperation. The argument then went ballistic and eventually ended up in a call (8th Global Conference on Health Promotion, Helsinki, 2013) to develop Health in All Policies – and intersectorality seems to have proliferated accordingly, in guidebooks, scholarly reflection, and an increase in terminology to include intersectoral action, policy, governance, multisectoral cooperation, intersectoriality, partnerships, etc. etc. etc.

Did all this frenetic thinking actually result in more, and if so, better action, policy and governance for health?

The project

Develop parameters, and if possible implement, a critical review in a number of (to be determined) jurisdictions to document the degree of actual collaboration for health. This requires an analysis of policy documents, rather than an assessment of the scholarly and health sector rhetoric.

The output of the project would be (a) a research protocol and/or (b) one or more peer-reviewed publications.

Contacts

Evelyne de Leeuw or Patrick Harris