REAL research unit aims to enhance understanding of health and social care


Funding of up to £3.725m over seven years has been received by the University of Oxford to set up a REAL Research unit, funded by the Health Foundation. The Oxford research unit is led by the Nuffield Department of Population Health, in collaboration with the Department of Economics, and the Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Sciences. 

The Oxford research unit aims to enhance understanding of health and social care demand by analysing its determinants, including demographics, technology, public expectations, and income growth. They will identify the long-running drivers of demand and how they evolve over time. The unit, led by Professor Hamish Low, will also focus on the sustainability and distribution of demand by examining geographical variations and identifying areas where policy changes can address gaps in need, utilisation, and treatment. This research will contribute to more effective policy planning and action in the healthcare sector.

The third theme of the Oxford research unit will focus on the economics of demand for health and social care and explores mechanisms for dealing with uncertainty through social insurance. This aspect of the project delves into the analysis of both aggregate and individual health shocks and their implications for policy planning and action.

Within the realm of aggregate health shocks, the research team will examine major events such as the COVID-19 pandemic. By studying the impact of large-scale health crises on the demand for health and social care, they aim to gain insights into effective strategies for managing similar situations in the future. This analysis will encompass the allocation of resources, the resilience of healthcare systems, and the economic consequences of such shocks.

On an individual level, the unit will investigate health conditions that limit individuals' ability to work. By understanding the dynamics of work-limiting health conditions and their impact on demand for health and social care services, the research team aims to inform policies that address the needs of affected individuals and facilitate their access to appropriate care and support.

To achieve these goals, the research unit will deploy dedicated staff with expertise in health economics, public health, and related fields. They will collaborate with research partners to leverage a wide range of knowledge and perspectives. Furthermore, engagement with stakeholders throughout the project will ensure a comprehensive understanding of the contextual factors and barriers to implementing effective policy changes.

Through its comprehensive analysis of the economics of demand and the mechanisms for managing uncertainty, this research unit aspires to transform our understanding of healthcare demand, provide evidence-based recommendations for policy interventions, and contribute to the development of sustainable and equitable health and social care systems.

Funded by The Health Foundation, and led by the Nuffield Department of Population Health