Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 90, Supplement 1, pp S7–S10 | Cite as

Toward a Lexicon of Population Health

  • James R. DunnEmail author
  • Michael V. Hayes


Despite its undeniable currency in research and policy circles, there remains considerable confusion about what ‘population health’ is. We propose a lexicon for population health in the hope of clarifying issues and advancing this important research emphasis and policy agenda. It distinguishes population health in its literal meaning from a population health perspective, population health research, a population health framework, and a population health approach to policy. Population health is more than just thinking in aggregate terms or about identifying vulnerable or at-risk subpopulations. A population health perspective is fundamentally concerned with the social nature of health influences. The social structures that shape health experiences transcend the characteristics or actions of any one individual, providing population health with analytic advantages over individualistic-oriented approaches to health and to health policy.


Malgré son indéniable popularité dans les milieux de la recherche et de la politique, ce qu’est la « santé de la population » reste très confus. Nous proposons un lexique sur la santé de la population dans l’espoir de clarifier les questions et faire avancer cet important sujet d’intérêt en recherche et dans l’agenda politique. Il distingue santé de la population, dans sa signification littérale, de perspective en santé de la population, recherche en santé de la population, cadre d’analyse en santé de la population et approche de recherche et politique en santé de la population. La santé de la population signifie plus que réfléchir en termes agrégés ou qu’identifier les populations vulnérables ou à risque. Une perspective en santé de la population est fondamentalement concernée par la nature sociale des influences sur la santé. Les structures sociales définissant les expériences de santé transcendent les caractéristiques ou actions de tout individu, procurant à la santé de la population des avantages analytiques sur les approches individualistes de la santé et des politiques de santé.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Health Services and Policy Research, Department of Health Care & EpidemiologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographySimon Fraser UniversityCanada

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