by | May 3, 2016 | Opinion

New European pilot project promotes better health for those in isolated and vulnerable situations

By Sascha Marschang, Policy Manager for Health Systems, EPHA

The new ’VulnerABLE’ Project aims to increase our understanding of how best to improve the health of people who are living in vulnerable and isolated situations in the European Union. It began in early 2016 and will continue for two years, with EPHA as a collaborating partner.

Purpose and scope of the project

The ’VulnerABLE’ Project is run by ICF International, in collaboration with EPHA, EuroHealthNet, UCL’s Institute of Health Equity, the Social Platform and GfK.

It targets vulnerable and isolated populations from within specific target groups – children and families from disadvantaged backgrounds; those living in rural or isolated areas; those with physical, mental and learning disabilities or poor mental health; the long-term unemployed; the inactive; the ’in-work poor’; older people; victims of domestic violence and intimate partner violence; people with unstable housing situations (the homeless); and prisoners.

Due to their circumstances, these groups can be at high risk of experiencing poor health and/or of facing barriers in accessing healthcare services. The project will assess their particular health needs, as well as identifying best practices to support them and improve their health.

Over its two-year lifetime, the ’VulnerABLE’ Project will involve: Interviews… with individuals and organisations who work first-hand in the field of health inequalities (such as the World Health Organisation and local authority networks);

Detailed research… into the health needs of people in isolated and vulnerable situations, including a face-to-face survey and in-depth focus groups with them;

A new Expert Group… bringing together the leading thinkers in this area and enabling them to contribute to future strategies to prevent isolation and vulnerability;

Training materials and capacity-building workshops… for national and regional authorities who are active in delivering healthcare services and who have a vital role to play in tackling health inequalities;

Regular news updates, web resources, direct communication with experts and a one-day conference… in order to spread awareness of the project’s findings amongst national and regional authorities; public health experts; health professionals; and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Regular updates

The VulnerABLE project kicked off in February through a series of interviews conducted by EPHA and the other collaborating partners with individuals and organisations active in the field of health inequalities, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO), academia, local authority networks and non-profit organisations who represent the specific target groups of this research. The insights from these interviews will be used to inform the later stages of the project.

Throughout the project, news and developments about the project will be shared, the dedicated project webpage will be updated and direct communication opportunities with experts will be held. For more information, please contact


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