Public Health Advocacy
- LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 20 September 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0028
- LAST REVIEWED: 14 October 2016
- LAST MODIFIED: 20 September 2012
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0028
The term “public health advocacy” refers to educating, organizing, and mobilizing for systems change in population health. Current and future threats to the health of the community are identified and public health advocates work to inform, create, and influence legislation and change the environment in order to create circumstances in which optimal health is possible. Public health advocacy occurs through media, legislative, and grassroots efforts. Although individual health advocacy for patient and client can be practiced, it should be stressed that public health advocacy, like the core discipline of public health, is undertaken to enhance the health of communities through improved health policies and programs. This article provides a collection of resources (books, journal articles, websites, etc.) selected to provide insight into public health advocacy as fundamental to the discipline of public health. In addition, sources that demonstrate the successful use of advocacy in influencing systems change are provided.
Mullan 2000 explains that social justice and population health are core to the discipline of public health. Advocacy is an important component of the efforts to create healthful environments; ensure access to care; and campaign to eliminate all health, social, and economic inequalities. Kingdon 2002 is a widely accepted explanation of how agenda setting and politics work in the legislative process. Oliver 2006 provides information about healthful policy within the context of agenda setting and policymaking. Together, these works assist in understanding where advocates can have impact in the political process. In McDonough 2000, a former legislator turned academic explains the theory and actuality of the health policy process. Public health advocates use knowledge of the policy procedure and examples of success to shape future policy approaches. Brownson, et al. 2006 discusses success and thoughts for future advocacy campaigns involving chronic diseases. For some chronic diseases, advocacy organizations are formed to dedicate time and energy to policies that promote disease eradication or the attenuation of symptoms. Andrews and Edwards 2004 describes how these organizations successfully become involved in the policymaking and appropriations (i.e., monetary allotment) process. Chapman and Wakefield 2001 recalls thirty years of tobacco control advocacy victories and the strategies for this work. Finally, education and advocacy for nutritional health resulted in sweeping policy change in Finland. Puska and Ståhl 2010 discusses the Finnish Health in All Policies initiative, under which all policies must be reviewed for potential health consequences.
Andrews, Kenneth T., and Bob Edwards. 2004. Advocacy organizations in the U.S. political process. Annual Review of Sociology 30:479–506.
Although not specifically dedicated to public health advocacy, this review of scholarship is useful in its discussion of advocacy organizations (e.g., nonprofits) and their involvement at various stages of the policymaking process. Could be used in further research on public health advocacy organizations. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Brownson, Ross C., Debra Haire-Joshu, and Douglas A. Luke. 2006. Shaping the context of health: A review of environmental and policy approaches in the prevention of chronic diseases. Annual Review of Public Health 27:341–370.
Examples of opportunities for public health advocacy to mitigate chronic disease are abundant in this work. Authors organize evidence from interventions across three domains—physical environment/access, economic environment, and communication environment—and suggest that change efforts should begin with environmental and policy approaches. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Chapman, S., and M. Wakefield. 2001. Tobacco control advocacy in Australia: Reflections on 30 years of progress. Health Education and Behavior 28:274–289.
Strong example of how public health advocates secured public and political support for effective policy change. Authors discuss how framing theory and media advocacy were used to gain legislative and policy changes in Australia. Good analysis of strategies for successful advocacy work. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Kingdon, John W. 2002. Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. 2d ed. White Plains, NY: Longman.
Political scientist Kingdon describes his multiple-streams (problem, policy, and political) model of the agenda-setting and policy process. Kingdon posits that all streams must converge in order for policy change to occur. Public health advocates can use this framework to understand the political process and construct advocacy campaigns.
McDonough, John E. 2000. Experiencing politics: A legislator’s stories of government and health care. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
The author, a former legislator and current academic, explains health policy in both theory and practice. Infused in this book are invaluable lessons for legislative, grassroots, and media advocacy.
Mullan, F. 2000. Don Quixote, Machiavelli, and Robin Hood: Public health practice, past and present. American Journal of Public Health 90:702–706.
Describes three types of public health officials as idealist (Don Quixote), political strategist (Machiavelli), and resource redistributor (Robin Hood). Describes historical roots of politics in public health and the need for those who work in public health to be strong advocates for the health of the public.
Oliver, Thomas R. 2006. The politics of public health policy. Annual Review of Public Health 27:195–233.
Explains influences on policymaking and agenda setting in the political process. Guides reader in understanding touchpoints where public health advocates may have the most influence. Discusses how policy entrepreneurs can advocate for health policy reform. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Puska, Pekka, and Timo Ståhl. 2010. Health in All Policies—the Finnish initiative: Background, principles, and current issues. Annual Review of Public Health 31:315–328.
Advocacy (e.g., Finnish Heart Association) and public health work led to dietary policy changes and, ultimately, the adoption of Health in All Policies by Finland. All public policies, including sectors unrelated to health, must consider health-relevant consequences. Future efforts for public health advocacy must encourage social change to follow political change. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
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- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Aging
- Active Living
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Agricultural Safety and Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)
- Asthma in Children
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Laws
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health in All Policies in European Countries
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Healthy People Initiative
- Hepatitis C
- High Risk Prevention Strategies
- Human Rights, Health and
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Internet Applications in Promoting Health Behavior
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Oral Health Equity for Minority Populations in the United ...
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Participatory Action Research
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Polio Eradication in Pakistan
- Population Aging
- Population Determinants of Unhealthy Foods and Beverages
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships in Public Health Research and ...
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Statistics in Public Health
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Traditional, Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative M...
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Tuberculosis among Adults and the Determinants of Health
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Vaccine Hesitancy
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Worksite Health Promotion