A better understanding of possible future developments is essential for policy makers to anticipate and possibly influence future trends. The current crisis makes it clear that Public Health Foresight Studies (PHFS) can help to get a better understanding of possible (health) impacts of the current COVID-19 outbreak, e.g., changes in regular health care services delivery, in lifestyle, and in socio-economic developments. The overall aim of Work Package 9 (WP9) is to gain insights into possible future health impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, by developing scenarios. A scenario is not a prediction, rather a consistent, plausible, and coherent description of the future that reflects on perspectives on past, present, and future developments, which can serve as a basis for action.
More specifically, the objectives of WP9 are:
- To get an overview of how European countries have been using foresight and related methodologies (e.g. modeling, forecasting, etc.) regarding COVID-19.
- To develop and provide foresight capacity (leveling the knowledge needed for performing foresight, reducing information inequalities, strengthening European data uniformity).
- To support evidence-based policy decisions, by exploring direct and indirect effects of the current pandemic on population health using foresight.
To address these objectives, WP9 applies a multi-step approach as presented in the following 4 tasks:
Task 9.1: Overview of current foresight activities in Europe and beyond
The objective of this task is to make an inventory that provides an overview of current foresight activities and initiatives in Europe and beyond. A literature review was conducted. Additionally, European countries were asked (through a “foresight-activities” questionnaire) to list current activities on foresight (and related methodologies), the current capacity and potential demands for applying foresight methodology. At the same time, health foresight experts and academics were identified.
Task 9.2: Building capacity in foresight
In this task, a Foresight Capacity Building training course was organized covering different aspects of planning and conducting public health foresight studies. Interested professionals from European countries participated to learn and developing foresight skills. The aim of the course was to provide European countries with tools and opportunities for discussion by leveling all (interested) European countries to a similar degree of knowledge.
More information about the capacity building sessions can be found here: ‘Public Health Foresight Studies’ Training
Please find here direct access to
- The booklet ‘Public Health Foresight Studies’ Training with more information about the course content
- The videos of previous modules
- The compact guide to public health foresight
Task 9.3: Collectively identifying key uncertainties and (national and pan-European) challenges using scenario analysis and advanced modelling
In this task, scenarios (in the context of a foresight study) for possible future pathways of direct and indirect health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be developed. The scenario development will follow a systematic process. Based on the capacity built in task 9.2, participants will receive support to plan and develop their own foresight study. During this exercise, trends and possible short and long term direct and indirect health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic will be explored and the most important societal challenges arising from these trends (as well as a set of indicators) will be identified. When possible, the analyses will be supported by integrated, advanced model-based simulations.
- Read more about developing your Public Health Foresight Study (PHFS)!
- Do you need some support to develop your own PHF study? Register here to receive some support!
- The compact guide to public health foresight
- Scenario Development Using Foresight Studies (D9.3)
Task 9.4: Developing guidance in identifying promising policy strategies (translating the information into knowledge)
The scenarios developed during Task 9.3 can provide possible images of the future and the associated societal challenges. To target these challenges, task 9.4 will identify promising policy strategies. Sequentially, the identified policy strategies will be discussed and further operationalized through policy dialogues (as a continuation of the scenario exercise).
Attention will be paid to the main issues that should be addressed within the countries´ strategic planning. A workshop meeting with national counterparts will be organized to identify gaps and needs regarding the preparedness of countries in facing future population challenges. The workshop will be used as a platform to discuss gaps and proposals from WP9 outcomes.
This task has also led to the creation of four foresight-informed policy briefs:
- Foresight for policymaking: preparing for challenges and promoting desirable futures
- Integrating climate, health, and equity for a climate-resilient Europe
- Unlocking the future of primary health care: the digital era unleashed
- A pandemic's impact on mental health
The leader and co-leader of this work package are: