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Open Access Study protocol

Investigating the health implications of social policy initiatives at the local level: study design and methods

Gemma E Carey

Author Affiliations

Centre for Health & Society, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

BMC Public Health 2010, 10:759  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-759

Published: 8 December 2010



In this paper we present the research design and methods of a study that seeks to capture local level responses to an Australian national social policy initiative, aimed at reducing inequalities in the social determinants of health.


The study takes a policy-to-practice approach and combines policy and stakeholder interviewing with a comparative case study analysis of two not-for-profit organisations involved in the delivery of federal government policy.


Before the health impacts of broad-scale policies, such as the one described in this study, can be assessed at the population level, we need to understand the implementation process. This is consistent with current thinking in political science and social policy, which has emphasised the importance of investigating how, and if, policies are translated into operational realities.