23 de gen. 2022

Trust in public institutions and the Code of Ethics of the public service in Catalonia

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs provides thought leadership through its UN DESA Policy Briefs series, presenting timely and relevant analysis and policy guidance on global economic and social issues. Here we present the policy brief #108

Trust in public institutions: Trends and implications for economic security
The legitimacy of public institutions is crucial for building peaceful and inclusive societies.

While levels of trust in institutions vary significantly across countries, opinion surveys suggest that there has been a decline in trust in public institutions in recent decades.

Economic insecurity—which the COVID-19 crisis threatens to exacerbate—and perceptions of poor or corrupt government performance undermine the social contract and are closely linked to declines in institutional trust. Rebuilding public trust in the light of the current crisis demands services that work for everyone and jobs that provide income security, as well as more inclusive institutions.

Policy brief #108

The Code of Ethics of the Public Service of Catalonia

This code, was approved in october 2021 and constitutes a common ethical framework for all the people who work in the respective administrations and public sectors (politicians, civil servants, managers, advisers,...) as well as those who work in private organizations and entities that carry out effective public services on behalf of the administrations.

The main objective of the Code is to guide the actions of public servants from the key of values, thus strengthening the integrity of their actions and thus helping to promote the improvement of public service, the improvement of democratic quality, and the recovery of the confidence of the citizenship in its institutions.

photo: Una habitación donde siempre llueve (Barcelona) Juan Muñoz

28 de des. 2021

Recessions and health

Recessions are complex events that affect personal health and behavior via various potentially opposing mechanisms. While recessions are known to have negative effects on mental health and lead to an increase in suicides, it has been proven that they reduce mortality rates.

A general health policy agenda in relation to recessions remains ambiguous due to the lack of consistency between different individual- and country-level approaches. However, aggregate regional patterns provide valuable information, and local social planners could use them to design region-specific policy responses to mitigate the negative health effects caused by recessions.

  1. Substantial country-level research shows that mortality declines (i.e. people live longer) during recessions.
  2. Recessions can make more time available for individuals to lead a healthy lifestyle.
  3. Motor vehicle deaths have been shown to decrease during recessions.
  4. Some studies suggest that during recessions the stigma of being unemployed decreases.
  1. A plethora of individual-level studies show that recessions lead to adverse mental health, especially for working-age and low-income people.
  2. The number of suicides appears to increase during periods of recession.
  3. Income loss due to recessions decreases investments in health-enhancing goods and services.
  4. Austerity measures that may be common during recessions, such as budget cuts to social welfare, mainly affect vulnerable population groups and the long-term unemployed.
Evaluations of the health-related impacts of economic recessions have shown inconsistent results. However, if recessions cause a greater deterioration in individuals’ mental health and a larger number of suicides, then governments should be motivated to work even harder to recover the world’s economies after downturns occur. 

Governments should acknowledge that the potential impact of recessions on people’s health depends on the extent to which people are protected from vulnerability. Welfare policies, such as labor market programs, debt relief programs, and access to health and mental health services, should thus play a significant role as a mediator in the relationship between recessions and health.

Nick Drydakis Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre for Pluralist Economics, Anglia Ruskin University, UK 


photo: Joan Miró Couple d'amoureux aux jeux de fleurs d'amandier


27 de nov. 2021

The benefits of Women's Health research

Women's health has suffered from insufficient research addressing women. The research community has not widely embraced the value of this research, and the impact of limited knowledge about women's health relative to men's is far-reaching. Without information on the potential return on investment for women's health research, research funders, policymakers, and business leaders lack a basis for altering research investments to improve knowledge of women's health.

As part of an initiative of the Women's Health Access Matters (WHAM) nonprofit foundation, RAND Corporation researchers examined the impact of increasing funding for women's health research, with a focus on the following three disease areas: brain health, immune and autoimmune disease, and cardiovascular disease. Using microsimulation analyses, the research team studied the societal cost impact of increasing research funding in three diseases that present a large disease burden for women: Alzheimer's disease and Alzheimer's disease–related dementias (AD/ADRD), coronary artery disease (CAD), and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Key Findings

  • Investing in women's health research yields benefits beyond investing in general research
  • The return on investment is higher for most scenarios in which research funding impact is assumed to be higher for women than men. Assuming an equal impact of research on women and men generally results in lower returns.
  • Research investment yields benefits for all people, but the specific emphasis on women’s health can result in downstream socioeconomic benefits that improve on general research.
  • Large societal gains may be possible by increasing investment in women's health research
  • Savings include increased life years, reduced years with disease, fewer years of functional dependence, and reductions in disruptions to work productivity.
  • Increase research funding directed at women's health. The potential gains from women-focused research are substantial, given the limitations in knowledge about disease development and impacts for women relative to men.
  • Pursue research on the biology of disease in women, including early identification, and identify barriers to diagnosis in women.
  • Expand research agendas to address the complicated relationships between disease and work productivity in women. Impacts include lost productivity for those with the disease and for informal caregivers, the majority of whom are women.
  • Raise awareness of the potential value of investment in women's health research. The ways in which women's health research is disadvantaged relative to general research are multifaceted, with major implications for disease burdens.

Authors: Baird, Matthew D., Melanie A. Zaber, Annie Chen, Andrew W. Dick, Chloe E. Bird, Molly Waymouth, Grace Gahlon, Denise D. Quigley, Hamad Al-Ibrahim, and Lori Frank, Research Funding for Women's Health: Modeling Societal Impact. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2021. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA708-4.html.

photo: Lluïsa Vidal


18 de set. 2021

Integrated Care (IC) and utilization: some evidence

Is integration of primary, secondary and social care better for patients and is it cost effective? Andrew Street, Professor of Health Economics, discusses a recent paper he published with co-authors Anne Mason and Panagiotis Kasteridis, which evaluated the cost-effectiveness of integrated care (IC) programmes in South Somerset for people with long-term conditions.

Objectives: As part of the Vanguard programme, two integrated care models were introduced in South Somerset for people with complex care needs: the Complex Care Team and Enhanced Primary Care. The authors assessed their impact on a range of utilization measures and mortality. 

  • Complex Care Team (CCT), provides senior medical input, care coordination, and a personalized care plan to support self-care.
  • Staffed by GPs with expertise in chronic care management, complex care nurses and other keyworkers, the CCTs aim to prevent avoidable hospitalizations or, for those in hospital, to support appropriate inpatient care.

Methods: They used monthly individual-level linked primary and secondary care data from April 2014 to March 2018 to assess outcomes before and after the introduction of the care models. The analysis sample included 564 Complex Care Team and 841 Enhanced Primary Care cases that met specific criteria. 

They employed propensity score methods to identify out-of-area control patients and difference-in-differences analysis to isolate the care models’ impact. 

Results: They found no evidence of significantly reduced utilization in any of the Complex Care Team or Enhanced Primary Care cohorts. The death rate was significantly lower only for those in the first Enhanced Primary Care cohort. 

Conclusions: The integrated care models did not significantly reduce utilization nor consistently reduce mortality. Future research should test longer-term outcomes associated with the new models of care and quantify their contribution in the context of broader initiatives.

Watch Andrew Street explaining the article (5m) 


13 de juny 2021

Economic leaders call for gender equality in pandemic recovery, june 2021

"Only if we seize on this opportunity to prioritise gender equality can we build a more prosperous world for all"

LSE Director Minouche Shafik has joined leaders from the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank, World Trade Organisation, European Commission and United Nations to call on governments around the world to prioritise gender equality as they seek to recover from the economic impact of COVID-19.

The statement, published by LSE and shared by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been signed by:
  • Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
  • Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank
  • Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation
  • Minouche Shafik, Director of The London School of Economics and Political Science;
  • Vera Songwe, UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa.
Within the statement, these leading figures highlight how women and girls from all parts of the world – both rich and poor – continue to face significant inequality, and bear the heaviest cost in times of economic hardship:

“From accepting gender pay gaps, to neglecting childcare, governments have not prioritised their needs. The result is a feeble, patchwork economic infrastructure - particularly in fields such as caregiving, retail, and tourism, where women are disproportionately represented - that leaves women struggling...

This inequality, they argue, has made countries weaker when faced with a crisis like a pandemic. But the response to COVID-19 also provides an opportunity to accelerate progress towards gender equality, and build stability and opportunity for everyone.

Three key policy areas
The statement calls for governments to focus on three key areas, “…to ensure that economic recovery prioritises women and girls, underpins an inclusive future, and ensures the world is prepared to withstand the next crisis.”
  1. Governments must ensure that money, stimulus efforts, and social protection schemes get directly into the hands of women.
  2. Countries must close gender data gaps and strengthen monitoring, evaluation, and data systems to support more effective public policy.
  3. Governments must reduce the burden of unpaid care work and support better childcare to strengthen women’s labor force participation.
The statement concludes with a warning, “We have no time to waste … The risks of inaction cannot be overstated. Refusing to economically support women and girls will not just set this recovery back, it will leave our economies more vulnerable to future shocks.

Acces to the Full Statement (pdf) 

photo: Salvem lo Montsià rocblackblock


18 d’abr. 2021

Health care technology and COVID-19: what will happen in the long term?

Research published by the Health Foundation in march 2021 explores the challenges of implementing health care technologies and investigates patient and staff experiences of technology during the first phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It draws on learning from the Health Foundation’s programmes and YouGov surveys of over 4,000 UK adults and over 1,000 NHS staff conducted in October 2020.

During the pandemic, there has been increased NHS use of both established and newer technologies to reduce face-to-face contact and manage demand. Phone consultations dominate, followed by some well-established uses of technology, such as booking appointments by phone or using the NHS website. But some emerging or less established uses of technology, including several explicitly promoted by national bodies, are also apparent. For example, accessing care records electronically, devices for home monitoring, video consultations, and the NHS app.

The research finds that while most of those who used technology more during the early phase of the pandemic found the experience positive, half of these users aged 55 and older (50%) and nearly half of those with a carer (46%) – groups that may have higher need for health care – thought these technology-enabled approaches made for worse quality of care.

Furthermore, the report finds that while 49% of the public and 61% of NHS staff surveyed thought the NHS should be looking to use technology-enabled approaches more in future, a significant minority of both public (36%) and NHS staff surveyed (31%) were unconvinced about the long-term use of these approaches.

While technologies were rolled out with impressive speed, some aspects of implementation – such as evaluation, co-design and customisation – will necessarily have been shortcut, and will need revisiting after the emergency phase of the pandemic is over. Furthermore, many technologies were rolled out specifically to serve pandemic response objectives such as social distancing, so will need to be ‘reoriented’ and developed to serve wider quality and productivity objectives in future.

Through a refresh of the NHS long term plan and other national strategies, policymakers will need to support front-line teams to revisit aspects of implementation and 'reorient' technology-based interventions to serve longer term quality and productivity objectives. Central to this will be evaluating their impact on care quality and developing a vision of ‘what good looks like’.

Access to pdf article (2021)

photo: Strawberry Thief, furnishing fabric, designed by William Morris, made by Morris & Co., 1883, © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 

6 de març 2021

Physician health management skills and patient outcomes


There are large, persistent differences in patient outcomes across physicians and health facilities. The root causes of these differences are not well understood. One reason could be to find if physicians’ health management styles can affect patient health outcomes and health costs.

As quality contracts become increasingly popular across various health care systems, it is important to highlight what facets of individual physicians’ health management styles have meaningful impact on health outcomes and to what extent they vary across physicians. The physician’s ability to correctly diagnose and treat common conditions is one of the central tenets of quality contracts. But the link between these skills and patient outcomes is at best tenuous. Critics have emphasized that unobserved patient-specific characteristics are important and under-researched contributors to the variability of patient health outcomes conditional on physician clinical skill.

Emilia Simeonova et al. published a working paper in 2020 in the NBER where using data on the population of statin users in Denmark between 2004 and 2008 and matching patients to their primary care physicians, they demostrated that

  • The physician’s ability to facilitate adherence with prescription medications (as a proxie of physicians's health management skills) has significant positive effects on patient outcomes and health costs even after controlling for observable and unobservable patient characteristics.
  • It is important to know that when we talk of physician skills is more than reflecting the clinical quality of the physician. Physician skills are related to their ability to make an adequate diagnosis and prescribe the correct treatment.
  • Younger physicians have on average more adherent patients.There didn't find substantial difference in health management skills between male and female physicians after they controlled for physician age and the patient mix. 
  • The interventions aiming at improving physicians’ health management skills as they relate to patient adherence with prescribed therapy will have positive impacts on patient health outcome

Access to NBER working paper (pdf)

photo: Homenatge a Ramon Llull (1976) Josep M. Subirachs ______________________________________________________________________