IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Improving health equity through theory-informed evaluations: A look at housing first strategies, cross-sectoral health programs, and prostitution policy


  • Dunn, James R.
  • van der Meulen, Emily
  • O’Campo, Patricia
  • Muntaner, Carles


The emergent realist perspective on evaluation is instructive in the quest to use theory-informed evaluations to reduce health inequities. This perspective suggests that in addition to knowing whether a program works, it is imperative to know ‘what works for whom in what circumstances and in what respects, and how?’ (Pawson & Tilley, 1997). This addresses the important issue of heterogeneity of effect, in other words, that programs have different effects for different people, potentially even exacerbating inequities and worsening the situation of marginalized groups. But in addition, the realist perspective implies that a program may not only have a greater or lesser effect, but even for the same effect, it may work by way of a different mechanism, about which we must theorize, for different groups. For this reason, theory, and theory-based evaluations are critical to health equity.

Suggested Citation

  • Dunn, James R. & van der Meulen, Emily & O’Campo, Patricia & Muntaner, Carles, 2013. "Improving health equity through theory-informed evaluations: A look at housing first strategies, cross-sectoral health programs, and prostitution policy," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 184-190.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:epplan:v:36:y:2013:i:1:p:184-190 DOI: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2012.03.006

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bernard, Paul & Charafeddine, Rana & Frohlich, Katherine L. & Daniel, Mark & Kestens, Yan & Potvin, Louise, 2007. "Health inequalities and place: A theoretical conception of neighbourhood," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 65(9), pages 1839-1852, November.
    2. Graham, Hilary, 2002. "Building an inter-disciplinary science of health inequalities: the example of lifecourse research," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 55(11), pages 2005-2016, December.
    3. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2004:94:4:651-656_1 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Thomson, Hilary & Thomas, Sian, 2015. "Developing empirically supported theories of change for housing investment and health," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 205-214.
    2. Mehdipanah, Roshanak & Manzano, Ana & Borrell, Carme & Malmusi, Davide & Rodriguez-Sanz, Maica & Greenhalgh, Joanne & Muntaner, Carles & Pawson, Ray, 2015. "Exploring complex causal pathways between urban renewal, health and health inequality using a theory-driven realist approach," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 266-274.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:epplan:v:36:y:2013:i:1:p:184-190. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.