About the VTV

What is the Dutch Public Health Foresight Study?

The four-year Public Health Foresight Study (VTV) provides insight into the most important societal challenges for public health and health care in the Netherlands. These insights are the basis for the National Health Policy Memorandum (‘Landelijke nota gezondheidsbeleid’) of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport and for local public health policy. The Public Health Foresight Study is drawn up by RIVM at the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. RIVM produces the report in collaboration with many parties from the community of practice.

The VTV-2018 consists of several parts

The VTV–2018 consists of four elements: a Trend Scenario, Thematic Foresight Studies, Options for Action and a Synthesis. The Trend Scenario and Thematic Foresight Studies describe a large number of trends that pose challenges for future public health and health care. The Trend Scenario contains figures on life expectancy, health, diseases, lifestyle, health care expenditures and differences in health. The Thematic Foresight Studies are descriptive in nature and deal with important changes in health care demand in the Netherlands, and how wider determinants of health (living environment, labour and education) and technology affect public health and health care. Next, Options for Action have been drawn up for three key challenges for the future. These challenges involve cardiovascular disease and cancer, older people living independently, and mental pressure in teenagers and young adults. The fourth element of the VTV–2018, the Synthesis, provides an integrated overview of the most important findings from the Trend Scenario, Thematic Foresight Studies and Options for Action.

The various components of the VTV-2018
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Selection of key future challenges for elaborating options for action

The Trend Scenario and Thematic Foresight Studies depict a broad collection of future trends. These developments render societal challenges that the Netherlands will face. In the VTV-2018, three urgent challenges have been selected. These most urgent challenges were selected using a survey. For this survey, the Trend Scenario and the Thematic Foresight Studies were summarized in 41 major future trends. Citizens and professionals and students in the public health domain were asked which of these future trends they considered most urgent. This information was used to select three challenges, for which detailed options for action have been elaborated. These are the persistently high burden of disease due to cardiovascular disease and cancer, the steady growth of the group of older people living independently while suffering from dementia and other complex problems, and the increasing mental pressure on teenagers and young adults. The findings from wide-ranging stakeholder meetings were used as the basis for the options for action.

Options for action: important directions for action based on stakeholder consultation

The purpose of the Options for Action in the VTV-2018 is to give an overview of important directions for action for the three selected challenges. Policy makers and other stakeholders can use these to set priorities for action, and as a starting point for the further development of concrete strategies and interventions. These options for actions are based on the input of stakeholders. For each of the three challenges, a meeting was organized with a wide representation of stakeholders. The three challenges each consist of different facets and can be approached from different angles. Therefore, several sub-goals were defined for each challenge based on the stakeholder input. For these different sub-goals, possible directions for action are described, as well as which actors should be involved. Next, the contributions of stakeholders were supplemented by findings from literature and inspiring and good examples. It should be noted that the three challenges are different in nature. For example, the knowledge base about how to tackle cardiovascular diseases and cancer is relatively well developed, while the challenge about the increasing mental pressure has a more signalling nature. Consequently, for some challenges more concrete directions for action could be formulated than for others.

The three challenges are part of a bigger picture

In this VTV, options for action have been elaborated for three selected challenges. These three challenges are representative of some of the major challenges our society is facing, but they do not represent the entire picture. Collectively, all trends from the Trend Scenario and the Thematic Foresight Studies reflect the overall picture of the future challenges for public health and health care in the Netherlands. In accordance with the purpose of the VTV, national and local governments can determine their own policy priorities based on this overall picture. The options for action for the three selected challenges might serve as inspiration for the elaboration of options for action for other challenges. For the local policy makers it is relevant to translate the results of the VTV, which are mostly national, to the local level. At a local level, other challenges might be relevant than at national level, and vice versa.

Synthesis integrates all elements of the VTV-2018

The Trend Scenario and the Thematic Foresight Studies describe how our public health and health care will develop over the next 25 years if current trends continue and no new policies are implemented. In the Options for Action, directions for action are elaborated for three key future challenges. The Synthesis of the VTV-2018 integrates the main conclusions from these different parts. The main future developments in the Trend Scenario and the Thematic Foresight Studies are summarised in eight themes, and the key findings from the Options for Action are presented in three web articles. These web articles include main recommendations of the consulted stakeholders, crosscutting opportunities and focal areas for policy and society, and a research and knowledge agenda for the future (the latter web article is only available in Dutch). In addition, the Synthesis also includes a web article on the main outcomes of the survey on the urgency of the future trends identified in the VTV. The Synthesis also includes the key messages of the VTV-2018.