This website is now part of Public Health Scotland. Publications released after 16 March 2020 are now published on the Public Health Scotland website.
Improving health
Previously NHS Health Scotland

There is a high demand for public services and a need to prevent future ill-health yet public spending is being squeezed. Investment in prevention (known as preventative spend), could meet demand in a cost effective way.

Our work so far has found that

  • many preventative measures are cost effective
  • some forms of prevention are likely to reduce health inequalities
  • some of these interventions will reduce future demand for health and social care
  • some will be cost saving, but most will generate further health and other benefits for extra costs.

There is increasing evidence that taxation or other policies affecting prices, regulations, and legislation to change behaviours are likely to be both cost effective and efficient in reducing health inequalities.

Our Economics of Prevention inequality briefing outlines the current evidence. It provides links to a range of recent evidence from organisations such as

  • the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
  • Public Health England (PHE).

Our study ‘Best preventative investments in Scotland – what the evidence and experts say’ sets out principles and specific areas for action for those responsible for planning and commissioning.

Identifying cost effective actions

There are several sources of support to identify cost effective actions.

Informing Interventions to reduce health Inequalities (Triple I)

Our Informing Interventions to reduce health Inequalities (Triple I) tools allow you to compare the estimated health and health inequality impact of a range of public health interventions at a national or local level.

You may also want to learn more about taking the right actions.

Health Economic Network for Scotland (HENS)

The Health Economic Network for Scotland (HENS) website has resources and information about events and training that will help you apply health economics in your work and take part in networking activities.

Health Economic Evidence Resource (HEER)

The UK Government publishes the Health Economic Evidence Resource (HEER) tool which contains evidence on the cost effectiveness and returns on investment for a wide range of public health activities.

The tool highlights the inputs and assumptions used in over 250 studies. The evidence is summarised across more than 20 criteria. You can filter by the criteria to find studies relevant to you so you can apply the evidence to your local setting. The HEER evidence has been quality assured by Public Health England.

You can get support from someone with health economics skills, such as the public health team in your local NHS board, to help you identify what economic evidence and analysis you might need to inform your work.

You can also find health economics evidence resources through, for example