In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Health Administration

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Textbooks
  • Journals
  • Research and Methods

Public Health Health Administration
Julia Field Costich
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 December 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 23 August 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0040


In a public health context, the term “health administration” has connotations that vary with the health system in which it is situated. In the United States, the distinction between public health and personal health care means that health administration, as a subtopic under public health, would be restricted to the management of services oriented toward population health. These services are largely but not exclusively provided in the government-funded sector, by federal, state, and local or district agencies and their partner organizations. In the United Kingdom and other countries with national health systems, “health administration” as a subtopic of public health has a much broader meaning, extending to include the full range of personal health-care services that are funded through government agencies and grants. Regardless of its national context, health administration is an interdisciplinary undertaking that requires knowledge of business and finance, policy, law, human resource management, and clinical practice, to cite but the most-obvious topics. Textbooks addressing health administration thus tend to be divided into topical chapters that focus on each relevant subject area serially, then present cases and problems that call on students to synthesize learning across topics. The following selection includes widely used texts and related material from the United States and the European Union. Health administration as a field of scholarly inquiry is highly dynamic, and those who wish to explore it beyond basic methods training are best advised to follow the leading journals, think tanks, and government publications rather than rely on published books. Thus, this article includes listings for journals and websites to direct the reader to the most timely scholarship on health administration, with direct citations to a very limited number of leading articles in the field.

Reference Works

The complex nature of health administration does not lend itself readily to the development of published reference works. Thus, the references listed in this section do not hold themselves out as comprehensive guides to the field. They are nonetheless useful compendia in their own areas. The materials from the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies website address aspects of European Union (EU) health systems, while the balance focus on the United States. Because content areas for US health care change so frequently, the American Hospital Association (AHA) Guide (American Hospital Association 2017), the Baldrige Resource Library, and the Guide to Community Preventive Services are available electronically; the latter two are also free of charge. The European materials and Guide to Community Preventive Services address population health as well as health care, while the remaining references are focused almost exclusively on individual medical care rather than services provided to population groups.

  • American Hospital Association. 2017. AHA guide to the health care field 2017 edition. Chicago: American Hospital Association Health Forum.

    Definitive compendium on a range of health-care providers, with a primary focus on hospitals and health systems. The guide is published annually.

  • Baldrige Resource Library.

    The Baldrige Awards program uses stringent criteria to assess quality in a broad range of manufacturing and service sectors, including a very select group of hospitals and health systems. The section on health in the Baldrige Resource Library provides information to support potential applicants, with a focus on leadership, governance, and quality of care.

  • European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies.

    Comprehensive resource on health systems in Europe.

  • Guide to Community Preventive Services.

    Important reference for public health administrators that directs them to evidence-based interventions.

  • World Health Organization. The Health Manager’s Website.

    Extensive resources for managers in limited-resource settings.

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