Population health differences in cross-border regions within the European Union and Schengen area – A protocol for a scoping review

Introduction Along with European integration and the harmonisation of living conditions, improvements in health have been observed over the past decades. However, sociospatial inequalities within and across member states still exist today. While drivers of these health inequalities have been widely researched on a national and regional scale, cross-border regions remain understudied. The removal of border controls within the European Union (EU) member states has facilitated economic convergence and created new opportunities, including cross-border cooperation in the healthcare systems. However, whether and how these developments have influenced the population health in the respective cross-border regions is unclear. Hence, this scoping review aims to examine the empirical literature on the changes in health outcomes over time at the population level in EU cross-border areas. Additionally, we aim to identify the type of evidence and available data sources in those studies. Finally, we will determine the research gaps in the literature.
Methods and analysis We will follow the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for this scoping review. The ‘Population–Concept–Context’ framework will be used to identify the eligibility criteria. A three-step search strategy will be conducted to find relevant studies in the databases of PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus and EBSCOhost (SocIndex). Additionally, we will search on websites of international governmental institutions for further reports and articles. The finalisation of the search is planned for August 2023. The extracted data from the scoping review will be presented in a tabular form. A narrative summary of the selected studies will accompany the tabulated results and describe how they answer the research questions.
Ethics and dissemination We will exclusively use secondary data from available studies for our analysis. Therefore, this review does not require ethical approval. We aim to publish our findings at (inter-) national conferences and as an open-access, peer-reviewed journal article.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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