The politics of institutionalizing preventive health


Boswell J, Cairney P & Denny ES (2019) The politics of institutionalizing preventive health. Social Science and Medicine, 228, pp. 202-210.

Prevention is an attractive idea to policymakers in theory, particularly in health where the burden of spending and care is increasingly taken up by complex and chronic conditions associated with lifestyle choices. However, prevention in general, and preventative health in particular, has proven hard to implement in practice. In this paper, we look to one tangible legacy of the recent rise of the prevention agenda: agencies with responsibility for preventative health policy. We ask how this form of institutionalizing preventative health happens in practice, and what consequences it has for the advancement of the prevention agenda. We draw on qualitative data to compare the trajectories of newly formed agencies in Australia, New Zealand and England. We find that building and maintaining legitimacy for such agencies may come at the expense of quick progress or radical action in service of the prevention agenda.

Prevention; Public health; Institutionalization; Agencies; Governance

Social Science and Medicine: Volume 228

FundersThe Leverhulme Trust
Publication date31/05/2019
Publication date online31/03/2019
Date accepted by journal26/02/2019
PublisherElsevier BV

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