A systems map of the determinants of child health inequalities in England at the local level

Patricia E Jessiman, Katie Powell, Philippa Williams, Hannah Fairbrother, Mary Crowder, Joanna G Williams, Ruth Kipping

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

12 Downloads (Pure)


Children and young people in the UK have worse health outcomes than in many similar western countries and child health inequalities are persistent and increasing. Systems thinking has emerged as a promising approach to addressing complex public health issues. We report on a systems approach to mapping the determinants of child health inequalities at the local level in England for young people aged 0–25, and describe the resulting map. Qualitative group concept mapping workshops were held in two contrasting English local authorities with a range of stakeholders: professionals (N = 35); children and young people (N = 33) and carers (N = 5). Initial area maps were developed, and augmented using data from qualitative interviews with professionals (N = 16). The resulting local maps were reviewed and validated by expert stakeholders in each area (N = 9; N = 35). Commonalities between two area-specific system maps (and removal of locality-specific factors) were used to develop a map that could be applied in any English local area. Two rounds of online survey (N = 21; N = 8) experts in public health, local governance and systems science refined the final system map displaying the determinants of child health inequalities. The process created a map of over 150 factors influencing inequalities in health outcomes for children aged 0–25 years at the local area level. The system map has six domains; physical environment, governance, economic, social, service, and personal. To our knowledge this is the first study taking a systems approach to addressing inequalities across all aspects of child health. The study shows how group concept mapping can support systems thinking at the local level. The resulting system map illustrates the complexity of factors influencing child health inequalities, and it may be a useful tool in demonstrating to stakeholders the importance of policies that tackle the systemic drivers of child health inequalities beyond those traditionally associated with public health.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245577
Number of pages25
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2021

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A systems map of the determinants of child health inequalities in England at the local level'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this