Population Health Objectives and Targets
- LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0125
- LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0125
Borrowing from its epidemiological roots and from management science, public health has widely adopted the practice of committing its resources and evaluation of its progress to priorities expressed as quantified, measurable objectives. Such population health objectives and targets generally have four essential ingredients stated in the form of answers to the questions “how much, of what, will be achieved for whom, by when?” The specification of “how much?” draws on epidemiological estimates of an achievable target expressed as a percentage decrease or improvement in the population. The “what?” is usually a specific health indicator rate or ratio (e.g., population morbidity, mortality), or a determinant of health such as a health behavior or an environmental condition. The “for whom?” describes the population in which the change is intended to occur. The “by when?” is usually a date by which the achievement can be expected. The following article provides a collection of resources (textbooks, journals, websites, etc.) that provide insight into health objectives as applied in public health; in addition, resources have been provided that detail the history and evaluation of population health objectives as they relate to US and other public health systems.
The most comprehensive application of population health objectives and targets is the US Healthy People initiative, which has defined hundreds of specific, quantified, measurable population health objectives for a nation in each of three previous decades and, as of 2010, a new online set of objectives for 2020. The World Health Organization maintains a similar website for publications available on its Health for All initiative and other population health objectives set by its regional offices and specific countries. The rationale and strategy of objectives-based planning and evaluation of programs are detailed in McGinnis, et al. 1997. In that paper, and in McGinnis 1980 and McGinnis and Maiese 1997, McGinnis describes how he and other public health officials used these methods in the US Healthy People initiative throughout its first two decades. Ochiai, et al. 2003 takes this tale into its third decade. Also early in the development of the Healthy People initiative, several publications outlined the rationale for “explicit goals for prevention and public health,” including Green 1980 (Green then headed the federal Office of Health Promotion responsible for coordinating the health promotion objectives), Henderson 1980 (from the perspective of the World Health Organization’s successful smallpox eradication program), and Richmond 1980 (Richmond then served as assistant secretary of health).
Green, Lawrence W. 1980. Healthy People: The Surgeon General’s Report and the prospects. In Working for a healthier America. Edited by Walter J. McNerney, 95–110. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.
A preview of the developing plans and mechanisms for the federal coordination of what the first surgeon general’s report on health promotion and disease prevention had called for in developing a cohesive strategy, and how these articulate the more than two hundred draft objectives developed months earlier by experts and stakeholders from across the country in the fifteen priority target areas of population health.
Henderson, Donald A. 1980. Explicit goals for prevention and public health. In Working for a healthier America. Edited by Walter J. McNerney, 95–110. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.
Reflecting on his experiences in directing the global smallpox eradication program for the World Health Organization, Henderson notes how important explicit objectives became and describes the attempt to satisfy the demand for health care without explicit objectives as futile and illusory when one recognizes the “finite resources and infinite demand” (p. 89).
McGinnis, J. Michael. 1980. Health promotion and disease prevention: Tracking progress in the eighties. Paper presented at the 18th national meeting of the Public Health Conference on Records and Statistics, 4–6 August 1980, Washington, DC. In New challenges for vital and health records—1980. Edited by the National Center for Health Statistics, 127–131. DHHS (PHS) Publication No. 81–1214. Hyattsville, MD: Public Health Service.
In one of the first descriptions of the Healthy People initiative of developing population health objectives and targets, McGinnis provides a vision and describes plans for the formulation and tracking of the objectives in the initiative’s first decade.
McGinnis, J. Michael, and D. R. Maiese. 1997. Defining mission, goals, and objectives. In Principles of public health practice. Edited by F. Douglas Scutchfield and C. William Keck, 131–146. Albany, NY: Delmar.
A textbook orientation to the distinctions drawn among mission, goals, and population health objectives in the federal Healthy People initiative.
McGinnis, J. Michael, James A. Harrell, L. M. Artz, A. A. Files, and D. R. Maiese. 1997. Objective-based strategies for disease prevention. In Oxford textbook of public health. Vol. 3. 3d ed. Edited by Roger Detels, Walter W. Holland, James McEwen, and Gilbert S. Omenn, 1621–1631. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.
This chapter reviews the history and development of the Healthy People initiative in the United States during its first two decades, tracing its roots to the “management by objectives” approach in business. It also discusses this national initiative in the context of international efforts stimulated about the same time (late 1970s and early 1980s) by the World Health Organization’s Health for All initiative.
Ochiai, Emmeline, Carter Blakey, and Randolph F. Wykoff. 2003. Healthy People: Defining mission, goals, and objectives. In Principles of public health practice. 2d ed. Edited by F. Douglas Scutchfield and C. William Keck, 161–175. Albany, NY: Delmar.
This update of the McGinnis and Maiese chapter (McGinnis and Maiese 1997) in the first edition of this book builds on the experience of completing the year 2000 objectives and launching the Healthy People 2010 objectives. Discusses the history of the initiative’s first two decades, development, management, federal leadership, selection of twenty-eight focus areas (up from twenty-two in Healthy People 2000, and fifteen in the 1990 objectives), and the organization of the Healthy People Consortium.
Richmond, Julius B. 1980. The goals now: Health status and quality of life. In Working for a healthier America. Edited by Walter J. McNerney, 79–81. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger.
In three short pages, the then surgeon general summarizes the historical context of the first Surgeon General’s Report on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, which launched the Healthy People initiative with an overall goal for each of fifteen areas: five each in health promotion, health protection, and preventive health services.
US Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People.
The US federal government’s Healthy People homepage gives the background and process for the development of objectives, “leading health indicators,” implementation planning and cooperative arrangements with the Healthy People Consortium of public, nonprofit, and private organizations, and the secretary’s Advisory Committee. Also provides information on the 2009 regional public meetings as the 2020 objectives were being developed, and links to official publications and data on the objectives, including free downloadable PDFs of each of the existing state-level Healthy People plans and objectives.
The World Health Organization’s home page links to numerous official, downloadable documents in which this international organization, its Commission on Social Determinants of Health, and its regional offices establish goals and objectives and monitor progress on them toward achieving targets within the health sectors of member nations. Also discusses how each of the other sectors of a society have an impact on health.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- 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
- 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