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Contemporary Public Health

Contemporary Public Health: Principles, Practice, and Policy

Edited by James W. Holsinger
Foreword by David M. Lawrence
Emmanuel D. Jadhav Assistant to the Editor
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 310
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Public Health
    Book Description:

    Public health refers to the management and prevention of disease within a population by promoting healthy behaviors and environments in an effort to create a higher standard of living. In this comprehensive volume, editor James W. Holsinger Jr. and an esteemed group of scholars and practitioners offer a concise overview of this burgeoning field, emphasizing that the need for effective services has never been greater.

    Designed as a supplemental text for introductory courses in public health practice at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Contemporary Public Health provides historical background that contextualizes the current state of the field and explores the major issues practitioners face today. It addresses essential topics such as the social and ecological determinants of health and their impact on practice, marginalized populations, the role of community-oriented primary care, the importance of services and systems research, accreditation, and the organizational landscape of the American public health system. Finally, it examines international public health and explores the potential of systems based on multilevel partnerships of government, academic, and nonprofit organizations.

    With fresh historical and methodological analyses conducted by an impressive group of distinguished authors, this text is an essential resource for practitioners, health advocates, and students.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4124-4
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Public Health

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Dedication F. Douglas Scutchfield, MD
    (pp. vii-x)
    James W. Holsinger Jr.
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xii)
    David M. Lawrence

    Years ago, during a sabbatical from the School of Public Health he founded at San Diego State University, Doug Scutchfield joined our family for dinner one evening. At the time, our children were of an age when they considered adults to be uninformed and uninteresting. Listening to old fogies tell war stories was not high on their lists of favorite things to do. But as Doug related tale after tale about our medical school experiences, the children sat enthralled long after dinner was finished and the last plate had been cleared. At the end of each story, they joined my...

  5. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    James W. Holsinger Jr.
  6. Introduction: History and Context of Public Health Care
    (pp. 1-24)
    James W. Holsinger Jr. and F. Douglas Scutchfield

    The history of public health in the United States demonstrates cycles of action and inaction, funding and a lack thereof. From its inception in 1798 until the post–September 11, 2001, period, the development of public health, according to Fee and Brown, has been “consistently plagued by organizational inefficiencies, jurisdictional irrationalities, and chronic underfunding. It is apparent that public health—in addition to lacking the support it deserves—has long been subject to a social and cultural discounting, especially in comparison to high-technology medicine, which undermines its authority.”¹ A review of its history results in understanding that public health is...

  7. 1 The Social and Ecological Determinants of Health
    (pp. 25-46)
    Steven H. Woolf and Paula Braveman

    In 2003 the landmark reportUnequal Treatmentdrew the nation’s attention to disparities in the way health care is delivered to racial or ethnic minority groups.¹ Studies had documented that patients with similar clinical presentations but different races or ethnicities received different clinical recommendations and different levels of clinical care. The report also documented disparities in access to care and health insurance coverage. The health care system responded by launching a variety of initiatives to study the issue, standardize care delivery, heighten providers’ cultural competency, and increase minority representation among health care professionals. The effort to expand access to medical...

  8. 2 The Health of Marginalized Populations
    (pp. 47-62)
    Richard Ingram, Julia F. Costich and Debra Joy Pérez

    The health status of the United States as a whole can be described as reasonably poor relative to other industrial nations. Evidence suggests that, while the United States ranks first among all countries in health care spending, it ranks thirty-sixth in life expectancy, thirty-ninth in infant mortality, forty-second in adult male mortality, and forty-third in adult female mortality.¹ This may be due, at least in part, to an underperforming health care system; the U.S. health care system performs poorly when compared with other nations, ranking last or next to last in quality, access, efficiency, equity, and healthy lives while ranking...

  9. 3 Public Health Workforce and Education in the United States
    (pp. 63-84)
    Connie J. Evashwick

    The public health workforce is a highly diverse collection of personnel representing multiple disciplines with a wide variety of career paths and employment settings, numerous types of formal and informal training, and a broad range of job functions. In the United States formal education in public health is offered by schools of public health, master’s degree programs, clinical professionals’ programs with specialties in public health, and colleges and universities. In addition, many of those working in public health come from other disciplines and have no formal training in public health. On-the-job training and continuing education for the workforce are provided...

  10. 4 The Role of Community-Oriented Primary Care in Improving Health Care
    (pp. 85-102)
    Samuel C. Matheny

    Over the last few decades, there has been a growing interest in the relationship of primary care to the health of communities. Several factors have contributed to this movement. First, there is increasing awareness that although the United States spends a greater proportion of its national budget on health care than any other country, Americans’ health lags significantly behind that of residents of other developed countries in many areas. Second, there is new and convincing evidence that the presence of a robust primary care system is strongly connected to positive health outcomes. This is complicated by a third factor—that...

  11. 5 Who Is the Public in Public Health?
    (pp. 103-128)
    David Mathews

    Public healthis a common term, but few individuals think about its meaning. People understand that thehealthportion of the term includes immunizations, restaurant inspections, and water quality reports. Thepublicportion of the term encompasses everyone—all Americans—and anything that is for the good of all. Is thepublicinpublic healthlike thepublicinpublic restroomsorpublic transportation—something open and accessible to anyone? Public health practitioners may disagree. A better analogy may be thepublicinpublic education. But the more a definition is sought, the less obvious the meaning becomes.

    This chapter...

  12. 6 Public Health Services and Systems Research: Building the Science of Public Health Practice
    (pp. 129-154)
    Glen P. Mays, Paul K. Halverson and William J. Riley

    Despite spending far more resources on health care than any other nation on earth, the United States continues to lag behind many other industrialized nations in population health outcomes ranging from life expectancy at birth and infant mortality to the incidence of preventable chronic diseases.¹ Although many factors contribute to this gap between investment and outcome, one likely explanation is the limited resources and attention devoted to public health—that is, the activities designed to promote health and prevent disease and disability on a population-wide basis.2-4These activities include monitoring and reporting on community health status, investigating and controlling disease...

  13. 7 National Accreditation of Public Health Departments
    (pp. 155-170)
    Kaye Bender

    In September 2011 the first national public health department accreditation program opened its doors for business. The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), chartered in May 2007, officially accomplished something first suggested in 1850. That year,Report of the Sanitary Commission of Massachusetts(the Shattuck Report) described an early framework of the determinants of health and set forth the duties of councils of health in assessing the public’s health status and promoting interventions aimed at improving it.¹ In essence, these were early standards of public health and a call to action for implementation.

    In 1914 theJournal of the American Medical...

  14. 8 Contemporary Issues in Scientific Communication and Public Health Education
    (pp. 171-192)
    Charlotte S. Seidman, William M. Silberg and Kevin Patrick

    This chapter addresses both the long tradition of and the rapidly changing environment for communicating information that is essential to public health and preventive medicine research, policy, and practice. As editors of theAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, we deal with this on a daily basis. But we rarely have the opportunity to step back and reflect on the process of our work, its historical basis, where it is now, and where it is likely to be in the coming years. Unlike many domains of science that thrive on highly specialized research papers that present findings of no immediate import...

  15. 9 Partnerships in Public Health: Working Together for a Mutual Benefit
    (pp. 193-204)
    Stephen W. Wyatt, Kevin T. Brady and W. Ryan Maynard

    For a clinician, providing comprehensive health care to an individual patient is complex and challenging, and it normally requires a wide variety of clinical disciplines over the individual’s lifetime. The growth in clinical specialties and even subspecialties over the years, along with the development of an evolving cadre of support disciplines, demonstrates that ensuring the health of one patient has become a team effort. If caring for the health of an individual patient is this complex, imagine the issues associated with ensuring the health of a population—the mandate presented to public health practitioners and public health systems. This mandate...

  16. 10 The Organizational Landscape of the American Public Health System
    (pp. 205-226)
    Paul K. Halverson, Glen P. Mays and Rachel Hogg

    Public health is practiced in the United States through the collective actions of governmental and private organizations that vary widely in their resources, missions, and operations.1– 3Governmental public health agencies play central roles in these delivery systems, but most of them rely heavily on their ability to inform, influence, communicate, and collaborate with numerous external organizations that contribute to public health services.⁴ The range of organizations involved in public health delivery and the division of responsibility between governmental and private organizations vary widely across communities.5–7Within the governmental sector, public health agencies differ in their statutorily defined powers...

  17. 11 International Lessons for the United States on Health, Health Care, and Health Policy
    (pp. 227-250)
    Stephen C. Schoenbaum, Robin Osborn and David Squires

    For many years, health care has been significantly more costly in the United States than in other countries. Nonetheless, overall U.S. health system performance and population outcomes often fall short of achievements in other countries.1–3Among sixteen member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States had the highest death rate from conditions that are potentially preventable or treatable—the so-called mortality amenable to health care. Although the death rate from these conditions has decreased in each of these countries, the rate of decline was lower in the United States than elsewhere (figure 11.1).⁴...

  18. Conclusion: Future of Public Health
    (pp. 251-276)
    C. William Keck, F. Douglas Scutchfield and James W. Holsinger Jr.

    It should be clear to readers that both the health of the public and the discipline and practice of public health in the United States are evolving rapidly. Measures of health status have, with some important exceptions, shown steady improvement since the beginning of the twentieth century. The practice of public health, broadly defined, is responsible for the majority of those gains. However, the contributions of public health have been largely unappreciated by the general public, and both the practice and the discipline have been overshadowed by the attention lavished on institutions and practitioners that provide personal medical care.


  19. List of Contributors
    (pp. 277-282)
  20. Index
    (pp. 283-296)