Social and economic research, including gender research


Improved understanding of social issues improves public health, health care delivery, and the design and uptake of new interventions and tools – whether by health and science professionals (e.g. use of a new diagnostic method) or by the community (e.g. use of bednets).

The social sciences applied to public health include a number of sub disciplines such as health economics, medical sociology, medical anthropology, social epidemiology and health geography. Gender has particular significance as a social issue with potential impact on health – society assigns different roles to men and women and, as a result, transmission dynamics of infectious diseases may disproportionately affect women or men, or lead to differential impact of disease according to gender.

TDR related research

TDR supports a wide range of social science research activities that includes the areas of:

  • health economics
  • health financing
  • health sector reform
  • gender-sensitive interventions
  • equity
  • social determinants of health
  • conflict research and human rights.

The Programme is particularly committed to addressing gender issues, and ensuring that gender and social science issues are investigated as part of the overall ‘research for health’ agenda, particularly since we have many partnerships and collaborations in disease endemic countries.

Where possible, gender and equity issues have been considered in the strategic objectives of our research functions, and we support workshops, meetings and other initiatives that focus on the social sciences applied to health. Our high quality publications can also draw attention to these issues, ensuring that gender and social science is considered in the design and evaluation of healthcare interventions.

We aim to address issues and priorities related to social, cultural, economic and policy-related issues in infectious diseases of poverty as well as the broader gender research issues through the Thematic Reference Group on Social Sciences and Gender (hosted by the WHO Country Office for Ghana). The knowledge network (which we support) features social and gender research, and in the future will have dedicated web space for social science and gender research related to infectious diseases of poverty.

  • The TDR think tank
    Group of over 150 worldwide experts focused on a variety of scientific topics related to infectious diseases of poverty. One group (hosted by the WHO Country Office for Ghana) has studied social sciences and gender and is providing a report on gaps and opportunities in this area.

Latest news

TDR publications and articles