The Role of Cohesion Policy Funds in Decreasing the Health Gaps Measured by the EURO-HEALTHY Population Health Index

Paula Santana*, Angela Freitas, Claudia Costa, Iwa Stefanik, Goncalo Santinha, Thomas Krafft, Eva Pilot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Social, economic, and environmental differences across the European Union significantly affect opportunities to move forward in achieving greater equity in health. Cohesion Policy (CP) funds can contribute positively through investments in the main determinants of health. The aim of this study is to analyze to what extent the planned investments for 2014–2020 are addressing the regional health gaps, in light of the population health index (PHI), a multidimensional measure developed by the EURO-HEALTHY project. The operational programs of all regions were analyzed, namely, the CP planned investments by field of intervention. Analysis of variance was performed to examine whether the regional scores in the PHI dimensions were statistically different across regions with different levels of development (measured by gross domestic product (GDP)). Results show that 98% of regions with worse performances on the PHI are less developed regions. Overall, all regions present planned investments in intervention fields linked to dimensions appraised within the PHI (e.g., employment, income, education, pollution). Yet, more needs to be done to focus regional investments in health determinants where regions still lag behind. The PHI has the potential to inform future CP restructuring, providing evidence to extend the current eligibility criteria to other dimensions beyond the GDP
Original languageEnglish
Article number1567
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Cohesion policy funds
  • European Union
  • Regional Health Inequalities
  • determinants of health
  • population health index
  • cohesion policy funds
  • intervention field
  • regional health inequalities
  • less developed regions


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