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Intersectoral action for health: the experience of a Danish municipality.

Research paper by Maja M Larsen, Riikka R Rantala, Okje Anna OA Koudenburg, Gabriel G Gulis

Indexed on: 31 Jul '14Published on: 31 Jul '14Published in: Scandinavian journal of public health



Abstract

The aim was to build up evidence on intersectoral action for health at local government level by identifying both challenges and facilitating factors in collaboration between sectors when developing and implementing an intersectoral health policy in Varde, Denmark.The study was carried out in 2011 using the case-study method. Approximately 500 pages of documents from the period 2007-2011 were analysed, and semi-structured interviews were carried out with nine key informants.The following challenges were identified: the policy was perceived as an additional task by employees outside the health sector; initially no direct funding was allocated to intersectoral projects; the level of ambition was not balanced between sectors; there was a lack of ownership of the policy; baseline measures were lacking and the policy had no clear objectives. Facilitating factors were considered to be: significant political support; public involvement; use of local media; establishment of a 'Fund for Health'; establishment of 'Health Networks' within sectors; and collaboration with a research group.Important practical lessons can be drawn from this experience for other cities planning to introduce similar formal intersectoral health policies in order to increase the chance of successful intersectoral action in further development and implementation of the intersectoral health policy in varde in the future, the challenges and facilitating factors identified in this study should be considered more evidence is required on the long-term health impacts of such policies.