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The economics of public health

The Health Economics Research Group (HERG) has contributed to a wide range of policy evaluations of interventions in the prevention of chronic and infectious diseases to improve population health (e.g. brief advice on and referral to exercise within primary care, promotion of breastfeeding, tobacco control, child vaccination, screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms, promotion of community-based sport to increase physical activity). The study designs include clinical trials, quasi-experimental and observational methods as well as decision-modelling and econometric estimation.

Supporting methodological research in this area includes: testing alternative specifications for price in estimating the demand for sport and exercise; evaluating alternative methods to incorporate externalities of public health interventions within economic models; development of decision-support models for commissioners; and approaches to incorporating short term benefits and non-health benefits of public health programmes in economic evaluations.

The programme has an increasingly global focus. For example, studies on tobacco control include ones with colleagues across Europe and South East Asia, and in New Zealand. Research on promoting physical activity is being conducted with colleagues in Ghana, Brazil and Sri Lanka who have all spent some time with the HERG team at Brunel.