Evaluating the health inequalities impact of free access to leisure
PHE ePoster Library. Halliday E. 09/12/17; 186594; 26
Emma Halliday
Emma Halliday
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Abstract IntroductionThere is a gradient in levels of participation with people from lower socio-economic groups less likely to be physically active. The use of free or concessionary charges for the public use of leisure facilities is one tool that local authorities (LA) have available to reduce such inequalities. The aim of the study was to assess whether policy approaches that reduced or removed the cost for leisure users increased physical activity and if that differed by socio-economic group. MethodWe treated LA leisure pricing policies as 'natural experiments' and used a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques to investigate their impact. This included interviews with 33 public health and leisure practitioners and 83 members of the public. Analysis was undertaken of leisure transaction data and the Active People Survey dataset. ResultsA policy offering a universal free offer in one LA substantially increased participation - particularly in more disadvantaged groups. In another LA, free holiday swims for children had relatively large effects, including for those in more deprived areas. Public experiences identified that charges affected the choices that users made about participation. ConclusionMany LAs are reviewing the extent to which they subsidise facilities or are considering whether to invest ring-fenced public health budgets in leisure. This research provides evidence to inform such decisions. External funding details The research was funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research (SPHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.
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