Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
James Warner Björkman
Health policy denotes normative and procedural dimensions of assuring physical, mental, and social well-being, including but transcending medical care. Spanning normatively and empirically contested domains, however, health policy means different things to different people. Sometimes it concerns content such as financing or organizing health services; sometimes it emphasizes the process by which valued ends are sought and occasionally attained; and sometimes it implies power and whatever else may influence the formation and implementation of health-related activities. This entry describes the values and practices intrinsic to health policy, focusing on six areas: (1) definitions of health, (2) values underlying responsibility for health, (3) the context of health care practices, (4) political actors in the health policy process, (5) options in providing health care, and (6) reforms in health care systems. Definitions of health range from perfect well-being through functional capacity to psychological perceptions. According to the World Health Organization, health is ...