Opportunities and challenges in public-private partnerships to reduce social inequality in health in upper-middle-income and high-income countrie: a systematic review and meta-synthesis

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OBJECTIVES: There is a need for novel approaches to address the complexity of social inequality in health. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been proposed as a promising approach; however, knowledge on lessons learnt from such partnerships remain unclear. This study synthesises evidence on opportunities and challenges of PPPs focusing on social inequality in health in upper-middle-income and high-income countries.

DESIGN: A systematic literature review and meta-synthesis was conducted using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool for quality appraisal.

DATA SOURCES: PubMed, PsychInfo, Embase, Sociological Abstracts and SocIndex were searched for studies published between January 2013 and January 2023.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Studies were eligible if they applied a quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods design and reported on lessons learnt from PPPs focusing on social inequality in health in upper-middle-income and high-income countries. Studies had to be published in either English, Danish, German, Norwegian or Swedish.

DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Two independent reviewers extracted data and appraised the quality of the included studies. A meta-synthesis with a descriptive intent was conducted and data were grouped into opportunities and challenges.

RESULTS: A total of 16 studies of varying methodological quality were included. Opportunities covered three themes: (1) creating synergies, (2) clear communication and coordination, and (3) trust to sustain partnerships. Challenges were identified as reflected in the following three themes: (1) scarce resources, (2) inadequate communication and coordination, and (3) concerns on distrust and conflicting interest.

CONCLUSIONS: Partnerships across public, private and academic institutions hold the potential to address social inequality in health. Nevertheless, a variety of important lessons learnt are identified in the scientific literature. For future PPPs to be successful, partners should be aware of the availability of resources, provide clear communication and coordination, and address concerns on distrust and conflicting interests among partners.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere076209
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2024. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

    Research areas

  • Humans, Public-Private Sector Partnerships, Developed Countries, Income, Awareness, Communication

ID: 379348931