The impact of financial crisis and austerity policies in Andalusia, Spain: disentangling the mechanisms of social inequalities in health through the perceptions and experiences of experts and the general population
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DepartmentBioquímica y Biología Molecular, Microbiología, Medicina Preventiva, Salud Pública
SourceInternational Journal for Equity in Health (2019) 18:108
Background: Andalusia has been one of the regions most damaged by the economic crisis in Spain. A qualitative study of the effects of the economic crisis and austerity policies in this region has been conducted within the framework of the IMPACT-A project. This research seeks to analyse the perceived impact of the crisis upon the health of the Andalusian population through the first-hand discourses of professionals from the health and social sectors on the one hand, and citizens of different socioeconomic status (SES) on the other. Methods: A total of five focus groups and ten semi-structured interviews were conducted and analysed following an inductive process based on Grounded Theory (GT). Results: Our results show a general perception among professionals: the financial crisis has either directly or indirectly affected population health in Andalusia, though mostly impacting low-income individuals who were already at risk of social exclusion. Professionals’ perceptions have been confirmed through the discourses of citizens of a lower SES, which differ from those of middle and upper SES. Conclusion: Findings reveal some of the most salient consequences on the socially vulnerable groups and people at risk of social exclusion. In particular, our study highlights the importance of addressing three areas of priority action: mental health, unmet (basic and medical) needs, and decline in the health system.