This paper examines whether an understanding of the concept of social capital and its local measurement can help to tackle inequalities in health within and across communities. The paper concludes that the concept of social capital offers a valuable opportunity to help public health professionals understand how to approach inequalities in health with a greater awareness of the social processes affecting the health of communities. The measurement of social capital has been problematic. However, new guidance from the Health Development Agency (HDA) provides a useful tool for developing social capital research. A greater understanding of whether, and how social capital relates to health will help to improve strategies to reduce health inequalities at the community level. Public health professionals contributing to community development strategies such as Neighbourhood Renewal Projects, Community Safety Partnerships, Health Action Zones and Health Improvement Programmes (HlmPs) should encourage thought to be given about the role that an understanding of social capital could play in making these strategies more effective. Using the HDA measurement tool locally could be one way of doing this.
Pilkington, P. (2002). Social capital and health: Measuring and understanding social capital at a local level could help to tackle health inequalities more effectively. Journal of Public Health Medicine, 24(3), 156-159. https://doi.org/10.1093/pubmed/24.3.156