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COMMENTARY Advancing the Population Health Agenda Encouraging the Integration of Social Theory into Population Health Research and Practice

By Katherine L. Frohlich, Eric Mykhalovskiy Phd, Fiona Miller Phd and Mark Daniel Phd


Historically, population health researchers have privileged methodologicalconsiderations in their research and practice. With the entry of researchers fromvaried social science disciplines into the field, and the growing recognition of the impact of social phenomena such as class, gender, and ethnicity on the health of populations, questions of social theory are poised to take on a greater salience in population health inquiry. This paper invites a dialogue focussed on the use of social theory in population health research and practice. We critique two common orientations to social theory found in the population health literature: the inexplicit and post hoc uses of social theory. We then propose three forms of engagement with social theory – to frame research, interpret emerging data and critique results. In our view, opening up a dialogue on social theory is an important step toward improving the explanatory potential and policy relevance of population health activities. Background This paper emerges out of discussions during two workshops on population health an

Year: 2016
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