• 21Jul

    Economic case for investing in public health

    NIHR Signal have published an article on a systematic review on the economic effectiveness of public health interventions.

    The Systematic Review estimates the return that public health interventions deliver to the wider health and social care economy in monetary terms. Results were averaged from 52 studies (4 from the UK). The return on each £1 spent for interventions varied from -£21.3 to £221.

    On the whole, legislative interventions such as sugar taxes, and health protection interventions such as vaccination programmes, gave the highest returns on investment. Interventions such as anti-stigma campaigns, blood pressure monitoring, and early education programmes, provided smaller (but still favourable) returns. National campaigns offered greater returns than local campaigns. Falls prevention provided the quickest return, within 18 months.

    Health promotion, healthcare public health and wider determinants of health interventions gave small returns on investment. For health promotion interventions (e.g. anti-stigma campaigns and family planning services) the median return was 2.2 (range 0.7 to 6.2, from 12 studies), for healthcare public health (e.g. heart failure disease management programmes and blood pressure monitoring) it was 5.1 (range 1.1 to 19.3, from six studies), and for wider determinants of health (e.g. 20mph zones, early education programmes and interventions for juvenile offenders) it was 5.6 (range 1.1 to 10.8, from six studies).

    The NIHR Signal expert commentary observes:

    ‘Further evidence on the health improvement and wider determinants is sorely needed, but even now the emerging work indicates respectable returns.’

    The NIHR Signal article can be accessed here: https://discover.dc.nihr.ac.uk/portal/article/4000718/public-health-interventions-may-offer-society-a-return-on-investment-of-14-for-each-1-spent

    Masters R, Anwar E, Collins B, et al. Return on investment of public health interventions: a systematic review J Epidemiol Community Health. 2017;71(8):827-34