Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 93, Issue 4, pp 297–302 | Cite as

Public Support for Poverty-related Policies

  • Linda I. ReutterEmail author
  • Margaret J. Harrison
  • Anne Neufeld


Objective: This research examined how public perceptions of the relationship between poverty and health predict support for poverty-related policies.

Methods: A random sample of 1,203 Albertans were interviewed by telephone to determine their perceptions of the relationship between poverty and health (myth, drift, behavioural, structural), and their support for government spending in six poverty-related policy areas: nutrition programs, housing, child care, increased welfare allowance, wage subsidies, and recreation programs.

Results: The greatest support was for child care programs, with the least support for increased welfare allowance. The degree of support for all policies except wage subsidies and recreation programs differed by the explanation chosen of the relationship between poverty and health. Those who chose a structural explanation were more likely to support government spending than those who chose a behavioural explanation.

Interpretation: Beliefs about the relationship between poverty and health influence support for policies. Public health professionals have a role in increasing public awareness of the structural factors that influence health.


Objectif: Étudier les perceptions publiques du lien entre la pauvreté et la santé comme prédicteurs de l’appui aux politiques de lutte contre la pauvreté.

Méthode: Entretiens téléphoniques avec un échantillon aléatoire de 1 203 Albertains pour déterminer leur perception du lien (mythique, dérivé, comportemental ou structurel) entre la pauvreté et la santé et leur appui aux dépenses publiques dans six secteurs liés à la pauvreté: les programmes alimentaires, le logement, l’aide à l’enfance, la hausse des allocations d’aide sociale, les subventions salariales et les programmes de loisirs.

Résultats: Les programmes d’aide à l’enfance ont reçu le plus d’appui, et la hausse des allocations d’aide sociale, le moins d’appui. Sauf pour les subventions salariales et les programmes de loisirs, le niveau d’appui accordé différait selon l’explication choisie du lien entre la pauvreté et la santé. Les personnes ayant privilégié l’explication structurelle avaient plus tendance à appuyer les dépenses publiques que celles ayant choisi l’explication comportementale.

Interprétation: Les convictions au sujet du lien entre la pauvreté et la santé influencent l’appui aux politiques. Les professionnels de la santé publique ont donc un rôle à jouer pour sensibiliser le public aux facteurs structurels qui influencent la santé.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linda I. Reutter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Margaret J. Harrison
    • 1
  • Anne Neufeld
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Nursing 5-134A, Clinical Sciences BuildingUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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