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The Slope Index of Inequality (SII) in life expectancy:- Interpreting it and comparisons across London

Report abstract

This guidance has been primarily developed for use by public health teams and those working on the health inequality agenda in the NHS, Local government or elsewhere. The guidance addresses the uncertainty that exists in interpreting the measures of inequalities. The complexities often arise from the technical theoretical basis from which the measures are derived from. To demystify this, the guidance illustrates how a commonly used measure of inequality, the Slope Index of Inequality (SII) is constructed and how when used correctly, the SII can help drive local health improvement. ‘Improving the health of the poorest fastest’ is central to the vision of the Public Health Outcomes Framework, with supporting indicators also included in the NHS, Adult and Social Care outcomes frameworks’. The publication of the guidance is timely; it complements recent analysis from the King’s Fund that revealed local improvement in unhealthy behaviours between 2003-2008 were not shared by those in lower socioeconomic groups (1). Measuring and monitoring health inequalities informs policies that enable local areas to achieve better health outcomes, furthermore, there are proposals to incentivise such progress with the newly proposed ‘health premium’(2).

1. Kings Fund (2012) Clustering of unhealthy behaviours over time. Implications for policy and practice. http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/unhealthy_behaviours.html

2. Department of Health, 2012. Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Update on Public Health Funding. http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_134578

By Peninah Murage, John Hamm and Michael Brannan Oct 2012

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