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Poor health and health inequalities persist despite increasing investment in health improvement programmes across high-income countries.
Evidence suggests that to reduce health inequalities, a range of activities targeted at different levels within society and throughout the life course should be employed. There is a particular focus on addressing inequalities in early years as this may influence the experience of health in adulthood.
To address the wider determinants of health at a community level, a key intervention which can be considered is supporting patients to access wider community resources. This can include processes such as signposting, referral and facilitation. There is a lack of evidence synthesis in relation to the most effective methods for linking individuals from health services to other services within communities, especially when considering interventions aimed at families with young children.
The aim of this study is to understand the way health services can best help parents, carers and families with pre-school children to engage with local services, groups and agencies to address their wider health and social needs. The review may inform future guidance to support families to address wider determinants of health.
The study is a systematic review, and papers will be identified from the following electronic databases: Web of Science, Embase, MEDLINE and CINAHL. A grey literature search will be conducted using an internet search engine and specific grey literature databases (TRiP, EThOS and Open Grey). Reference lists/bibliographies of selected papers will be searched. Quality will be assessed using the Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool for quantitative studies and the CASP tool for qualitative studies. Data will be synthesised in a narrative form and weighted by study quality.
It is important to understand how health services can facilitate access to wider services for their patients to address the wider determinants of health. This may impact on the experience of health inequalities. This review focuses on how this can be achieved for families with pre-school children, and the evidence obtained will be useful for informing future guidance on this topic.
Systematic review registration