Study Protocol. Evaluating the life-course health impact of a city-wide system approach to improve air quality in Bradford, UK: A quasi-experimental study with implementation and process evaluation

Publication authors

Rosemary R C McEachan, Rukhsana Rashid, Gillian Santorelli, James Tate, Jamie Thorpe, James B McQuaid, John Wright, Kate E Pickett, Kirsty Pringle, Laura Bojke, Sally Jones, Shahid Islam, Simon Walker, Tiffany C Yang, Maria Bryant



Air quality is a major public health threat linked to poor birth outcomes, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality. Deprived groups and children are disproportionately affected. Bradford will implement a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) as part of the Bradford Clean Air Plan (B-CAP) in 2022 to reduce pollution, providing a natural experiment. The aim of the current study is to evaluate the impact of the B-CAP on health outcomes and air quality, inequalities and explore value for money. An embedded process and implementation evaluation will also explore barriers and facilitators to implementation, impact on attitudes and behaviours, and any adverse consequences.


The study is split into 4 work packages (WP). WP1A: 20 interviews with decision makers, 20 interviews with key stakeholders; 10 public focus groups and documentary analysis of key reports will assess implementation barriers, acceptability and adverse or unanticipated consequences at 1 year post-implementation (defined as point at which charging CAZ goes ‘live’). WP1B: A population survey (n = 2000) will assess travel behaviour and attitudes at baseline and change at 1 year post-implementation). WP2: Routine air quality measurements will be supplemented with data from mobile pollution sensors in 12 schools collected by N = 240 pupil citizen scientists (4 within, 4 bordering and 4 distal to CAZ boundary). Pupils will carry sensors over four monitoring periods over a 12 month period (two pre, and two post-implementation). We will explore whether reductions in pollution vary by CAZ proximity. WP3A: We will conduct a quasi-experimental interrupted time series analysis using a longitudinal routine health dataset of > 530,000 Bradford residents comparing trends (3 years prior vs 3 years post) in respiratory health (assessed via emergency/GP attendances. WP3B: We will use the richly-characterised Born in Bradford cohort (13,500 children) to explore health inequalities in respiratory health using detailed socio-economic data. WP4: will entail a multi-sectoral health economic evaluation to determine value for money of the B-CAP.


This will be first comprehensive quasi-experimental evaluation of a city-wide policy intervention to improve air quality. The findings will be of value for other areas implementing this type of approach.