Population Health Perspective

Accomplishing good health is a serious issue (Dianne Kinnon, 2002). Many academics and policy makers accept this truth that they want health but they do not focus on this (Toward Flourishing for all, 2009). In Australia professional interest in man’s health has increased from the past few years. At the same time as there are contradictory ways of defining men’s health, the common problem in Australia is the lack of assurance to implement men’s health policies at state as well as federal levels (James, 2007).

Population health perspective is mainly used to tackle wide range health issues (Lil, et al, 2002).The study of population health is to review methodical differences in health status among population or societies where selected population from one country to another is compared. The study is based upon historical information about the origin of health status. International comparison studies are done through it. It supports longitudinal studies which connect the knowledge of human development to health and well being all over the human life cycle (Joseph and Samuel, 1998).

The population health approach mainly targets to maintain the health status of the whole population (Dr. Clyde, 2009). Its goal is to diminish dissimilarities in health status among various groups (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

After reviewing the wide details of information population health analysts, policy makers and researchers try to determine the fundamental determinants of health in human populations such as physical environments, socioeconomic and psychological conditions, individual life style patterns and accessibility to healthcare program and services. The scientists and policy makers analyze the role of healthcare services and evaluate evidences to check the effectiveness of these services (Joseph and Samuel, 1998).

There are many factors which affect the health status of any population. These issues are taken as determinants of health. A Population Health Approach (1999) mentions that these issues consist of education, social support networks, income and social status, social environments, physical environments, personal health practices, healthy child development, biology and genetic donation, health services, gender and culture (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

The whole range of individual and collective determinants all are measured to see the way they interact to each other. In a population health approach it is important to collect evidences for checking these determinants which affect on population health status. A population health approach (A Population Health Approach, 1999):

  • Is a theoretical structure to think about health. It helps us in recognizing the health determinants, which put effect on health. It evaluates them and their relative importance in deciding health.
  • The approach contains decisions like policy changes, investment, priorities etc which are intended for the evidence about the comparative role for population health status of the health determinants and their relations.
  • Is a structure which takes action through policies and programs on health issues of a population and takes into consideration the numerous determinants.
  • The approach contains actions which have main objectives for the societal, community, system or structural level and affect health status at the population or group level.
  • A Population Health Approach (1999) state that the approach needs group effort among various sectors like government at all levels, business and voluntary organization in the field of transportation, health environment etc. intersectoral involvement becomes necessary since the most determinants are surrounded by the responsibility of sectors other than health. Using the same symbol, the health sector can guide as the focus always remains on health status. Multi sectoral evaluation and decision making distinguish a population health approach (A Population Health Approach, 1999).
  • A population health approach has the probability of contributing chiefly in the improvisation of population health and reduction of health dissimilarities. It will help to put together health services policies and actions with such policies and actions which are related to other determinants (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Guiding Principles

There are some fundamental principles to a population health approach which come from past experiences and they provide with new directions. These principles tell about the values and beliefs of a population health approach. They help us in setting our priorities and also a foundation on which we can plan and assess our health initiatives. In a real meaning the principles design our interventions and on its basis we evaluate our health issues (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Health is a capacity

Our definition about health is changed. If we take the positive view of health, it is an added notion which is more than the absence of disease that makes out the state of complete physical, mental and social welfare. It becomes easier to discuss about the contribution of health to social well being and quality of life and it is alo easier to find out the relationship between these concepts as shared and mutually supporting (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

The population health approach is able to understand that health is a resource rather than a state. This definition follows one’s goals for getting hold of skills and education and for growing as well. This extensive definition of health identifies the factors in the social, economic and physical environments that influence health. A Population Health Approach (1999) explains the idea of Frankish et al. (1997) that the best suitable statement of this idea is ‘the capacity of people to adapt to, respond to, or control life’s challenges and changes’ (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

The determinants of health are addressed as their complexity and interelation

Determinants of health are the combined brands that are given to the factors and conditions, which put effect on health status according to some researches. The listing of determinants is in progress as knowledge in this area is also growing. The determinants are not isolated from each other rather they perform in a complex web of cause and effect. Here the population health signifies to instituting strong links with other sectors and encouraging them to take actions, which have a say to the community’s health (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

The focus is upstream

A population health approach has a strong belief that the sooner in the ‘casual stream’ one can act, the bigger the benefits for health status. An upstream approach of involvement can help in solving any health issue of a population if it is applied along the whole gamut of health action like promotion, prevention, protection, through to treatment, rehabilitation and other care (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Preferably, the current health status of a population is evaluated and future health prospects are developed on the basis of setting goals which is for improvising health results for the whole population. For all the determinants of health, signs for health status are needed instead of disease status. After seeing the changes in the quantities in the population, the effect can be evaluated to check the improvisation in health status. Interrelations can be seen among these improvements with changes in the determinants of health for the distinct population (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Now the main issue is to recognize the strategies to analyze the upstream impacts. For doing this it needs the insight to understand the factors which will determine health in the future for short as well as long term. It is also important to review the types of strategies for utilizing them; to check who will use them; whom they will be aimed at and when they will be executed. This has to be done to observe the most wanted health results (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Health is everyone’s business

The population health approach identifies the responsibility of every citizen to support health. Most of the determinants of health could be out of control of the individuals but they can be affected by other groups or organizations. That is why it becomes important for all sectors to think over the impact of their policies and programs on health issues and they require the involvement of all the citizens for taking decisions which affect their health. As there are lots of factors which are affecting the decisions in each sector, the whole community must take the responsibility and should make efforts in supporting population’s health through the development of healthy public policies (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Decisions are based on evidence

Health information databases are required. It is to make sure that significant information is available to them who want it on time. We generally collect disease data not health data. While we use this data for short-term, we need to explain health and how we collect health data. A population health approach makes the use of current sources and types of data. We must try to find out new sources to focus on the determinants of health. We must also be attentive to see the effectiveness of interventions intended for these determinants. It requires a great skill to do participatory research for collecting data.

Most of the information which is collected should be used in different ways from the way it has been used in the past. For this purpose both qualitative and qualitative data is required to assess goals and strategies. Quantitative data let us know about the type and size of health issues in the population and to recognize health results. Qualitative data give richness and depth to quantitative data which is essential to understand the happenings of health problems in the population. It is also required to know the strategies to deal with them. The evaluation of both types of data will help in assessing needs, establishing goals and priorities and deciding quality assurance. It also does impact assessment and checks evaluation measures (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Accountability for health outcomes is increased

It is expected from politicians, bureaucrats and organizations at all levels to be clear. They should be open to comment and analysis and should be answerable for their decisions either for short term or long term (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

The population health approach needs a big focus on health results. It is opposed to inputs, processes and products. This will affect the planning and the goal setting processes. Choosing strategies will contain decisions about the best investment of resources. It also determines their probability to produce the greatest health gains. Examining a process or program to check whether it is meeting with its goals, to check impact evaluation, which is related to all the changes in programs and policies, the assessment for long term results becomes important for a population health approach (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

This outcome evaluation studies the changes for longer period in the health status and the determinants of health. A Population Health Approach (1999) tells that such kinds of changes could be observed in knowledge, awareness and behavior, changes in social, economic and environmental conditions, changes in public policies and health infrastructure. Outcome evaluation assesses reductions in health status inequities among population subgroups (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Management of health issues is horizontal

Accepting a population health approach indicates a shift from a traditional approach to a more horizontal management of health issue. It includes supporting all members and sectors of the community which includes families, individuals, agencies, businesses, media, and networks, service systems like health, justice, education, social services etc. and also government. They all have a universal aim. There could be seen a big change in the role of agencies and organization which may take support instead of taking leadership roles in the management of health issues (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

The researches related to health promotion have shown that community members can work effectively on their own to support health and can also respond to health problems independently. The community work at the grass roots should be managed horizontally. The activities of voluntary heal organizations and community groups are more effective when their are carried out as teamwork with health and social service professionals and also government policy makers. As all the systems are interconnected, it is necessary to coordinate with planning, development and implementation of all the related policies, programs and services, which execute within the population. There should be a requirement of powerful communication between the systems (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

A population health approach has an intense effort by all the partners to collect all their resources, minimize duplication and achieve the best return on investment. Supporting the views of the other organizations on the effects of programs and policies for decision making processes is the answer of taking the health benefits of horizontal management (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Multiple Strategies

Different strategies in different settings are used in different sectors and systems. Factors which can improve health are chosen for their impact on the whole population. It recognizes the best ways for evaluating the health needs in all the areas for population and selects specific needs of each group and connects them together. This approach for health differences among sub-groups in the population should be identified. In a population health approach the strategies should be aimed at all families, levels, individuals, sectors, systems and society. Some strategies can affect whole population though some will affect sub groups only.

The strategies and their combinations must be analyzed to see which ones will have the greatest impact on the health of the population and some important issues should considered like capacity to effect changes, check the available sources, the advantages of short and long term interventions and their impact. Population health research investigates that there should be some changes in risk factors at the population level which can affect the population health greatly instead of making big changes in these same factors that focus only those at the highest risk (A Population Health Approach, 1999).

Determinants of Health

Determinants of health is a common phrase which is given to the factors and conditions that put effect on health. These determinants do not work separately. They have complex interaction with each other and put strong influence on health. According to Social determinants of health: World Health Organization, the social determinants of health are those situations, in which people are born, grow, work and live that also include health conditions. These conditions are designed by the distribution of money, power and resources, national and local levels and are influenced by policy choices. These determinants are mainly responsible for health inequities. Some differences in health status could be observed within the countries (Social determinants of health: World Health Organization).

Now we will review the following determinants, which affect health (A Population Health Approach, 1999):

  • Income and Social Status: This is the major issue for health. Health status improves according to the income and social hierarchy. Living conditions depend upon higher income level as people are able to afford safe house and sufficient good food (A Population Health Approach, 1999).
  • Social Support Networks: the support from other networks like family, friends and communities help in leading healthy life. The support from friends and family can be similarly important as the risk factors like smoking, obesity, physical activity and high blood pressure (A Population Health Approach, 1999).
  • Education: as the level of education increases the health status also increases. Education increases the chances for better income and gives job security. Through education people also get a sense of control over their lives like the main factors that influence the life.
  • Employment and Working Conditions: Unemployment and stressful work can nt give a healthy lifestyle rather it leads to bad health. People who have control on their work and have less stressful job live a healthier life.
  • Social Environments: The support of the society put influence on the health of the population. A supportive society depends upon the social stability, diversity, recognition, safety, a good relationship which is helpful in maintaining good healthy life (A Population Health Approach, 1999).
  • Physical Environment: Physical features like air, water quality play an important role in affecting the health of a population. Factors like housing, community and road design are also important features (A Population Health Approach, 1999).
  • Personal Health Practices and Coping Skills: Personal actions that encourage healthy lifestyle and also knowledge of healthy ways also put effect on health.
  • Healthy Child Development: The effects of early childhood experiences on the health and then coping with them are also important factors to put effect on life. For example if a child has low weight at birth can have health and social problems in his whole life (A Population Health Approach, 1999).
  • Culture: Culture comes from personal history and from social, political and economic factors. Multi-cultural health issues are required to think about inter-relationships of mental, physical, social, spiritual and economic health.
  • Health Services: Health services which support health and prevent disease add to population health.
  • Gender: it signifies many different roles, attitudes, personality traits, values, relative powers, behaviors and also the idea that society allocate to the two sexes (A Population Health Approach, 1999). Every gender has some particular health issues, which can be affected, which may be influenced in different ways by the same issues. (A Population Health Approach,1999).
  • Biology and Genetic Endowment: A Population Health Approach (1999) depicts that the basic biology of the human body is the main determinant of health. Inborn tendencies affect the ways of individuals which happen due to any specific disease or health problems (A Population Health Approach, 1999).
  • Historical, International and Socioeconomic Insights into the Determinants of Health: The researches on population health commence after observing the human populations’ flaunt as regards with their patterns of health and disease. A person’s health can be affected by the social as well as individual factors and also the rest of the society and the general environment in which he lives.

The community health center model of care focuses on five services areas (CHC Model of Care: Ontario’s Community Health Centers):

  • Health Promotion
  • Illness prevention
  • Primary care
  • Service Integration
  • Community Capacity Building

Finally to improve the health status of men should be based on collecting valid and reliable data from the point of view of men’s perception of health. It should be according to their health practices and needs. This data should be used in response to health policies of Australia (James, 2007).

List of References

“A Population Health Approach”, 1999. Web.

Dianne K, 2002. Improving Population Health, Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Health Protection Services and Programs for Aboriginal People, National Aboriginal Health Organization. Web.

Dr. Clyde H, 2009. A Population Health Perspective. Web.

“Expert Group on Social Determinants And Health Equalities”, 2008. EUROPEAN COMMISSION Heath and Consumers Directorial General. Web.

James A S, 2007. “Addressing men’s health policy concerns in Australia: what can be done?” Australia and New Zealand Health Policy. Web.

Joseph K. H. T and Samuel B S, 1998. Health Decision Support Systems, Jones and Bartlett Publishers, p.408. Web.

Lil Tonmyr, 2002.The population health perspective as a framework for studying child maltreatment outcomes, Public Health agency of Canada”, Vol. 23, No.4. Web.

Ontario’s Community Health Centers. Web.

“Social Determinants of Health”, World Health Organization. Web.

“Toward Flourishing for all”, 2009. National Mental Health Promotion and Mental Illness Prevention Policy for Canadians. Web.