Advancing the population health agenda: encouraging the integration of social theory into population health research and practice

Katherine L. Frohlich, Eric Mykhalovskiy, Fiona Miller, Mark Daniel

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

21 Citations (Scopus)


Historically, population health researchers have privileged methodological considerations in their research and practice. With the entry of researchers from varied 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 focused 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 in explicit 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-395
Number of pages4
JournalCanadian Journal of Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes


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