Newsletter Sophie
Newsletter nº 1 - May 2013 Sophie
The method     Results     People     The picture    The number     News     Readings

Dear reader,
The SOPHIE project is funded by FP7 and evaluates the impact of structural policies on health inequalities and their social determinants to foster change. This newsletter intends to keep in touch with all our partners, the scientific community and any other stakeholder interested in SOPHIE.

You are welcomed to feedback us with any comment, suggestion or idea.

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The method Results
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A scientific leader: Anton Kunst, Amsterdam A stakeholder: Mercè Darnell, Caritas Barcelona
Anton Kunst

"I am driven by curiosity - the thrill that you are going to find something that is yet unknown"

Mercè Darnell

"If we don't guarantee income and housing to crisis victims, the cost for society will be much greater"

Anton Kunst has a long trajectory in research on health inequalities and leads the Social Epidemiology research line at the University of Amsterdam. In SOPHIE he leads a methodological work package, mixing quantitative analyses with realist evaluations.

How can we understand complex pathways between policies, social factors and health inequalities?
In health care, the essential question is ‘what works’? This also applies to health inequalities. After more than 20 years of descriptions and explanations, a key challenge is to determine which social policies have been effective in improving population health and in reducing health inequalities, which in SOPHIE we undertake by using quasi-experimental research designs. But our ambitions are more: we also want to learn “how” a policy became effective and “what conditions” were important, to understand how this effect could possibly also be achieved in other situations.

Read the full interview here

Caritas Barcelona is a very special kind of stakeholder as it has been involved in the project from the very beginning as a partner. Mercè Darnell is Head of Programs and Services of the organisation.

What is your lived experience of how poverty, inequality and bad policies affect people's health?
We witness directly how the crisis and the lack of social protection policies affect people’s daily lives and makes them physically and psychologically sick. More and more people in Catalonia start the first days of the month with no steady income, no security, no daily routine. Mental health is affected in two patterns: people that gets desperate and anxious, and people who have thrown in the towel, fallen into depression, and say “I leave my life in your hands, I surrender”. Physical health also deteriorates. Missing meals, an unbalanced diet, increasing waiting times for visits or tests, the worsening of back pain, headaches, skin problems...

Read the full interview here

The picture The number
The picture

Change in suicide rates before and after 2007 in EU countries. Source: Karanikolos et al. Financial crisis, austerity, and health in Europe. Lancet 2013.


of adults with poor mental health (GHQ- 12) in a survey at Caritas Barcelona offices of families living in precarious housing conditions or with housing payment problems. Comparable figures in the Spanish population are 20%.
Among other factors, 78% of the subjects had been worried for being able to buy food during the last year.
These subjects will be resurveyed to assess the impact of Caritas social housing programme.

News Readings
On May 29-31 we will meet in Amsterdam to discuss our advances. The first day, we will have the opportunity to discuss our project with the members of our Advisory Board. Find out more on our website!


Through our Twitter account @sophieproject we are recommending several published articles and reports on the topics of the project. Find them out here and start following us!
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