The New Public Health Approach to Improving Physical Activity and Autonomy in Older Populations

  • John B. McKinlay


A whole population (or purportedly “new”) public health approach is emerging which is characterized by (a) the promotion of health through upstream planned sociopolitical change; (b) appreciation of the ontologic and epistemologic limitations of risk-factor epidemiology to inform this new approach; (c) application of more appropriate methodologies (including both quantitative and interpretive methods); and (d) the incorporation of multi-level outcomes (including broader measures of qualities of life). Confronting this new public health, established epidemiology and community health methods are limited in three key ways: a dominant paradigm which produces atheoretical studies and the equation of infinite risks with causation; a restrictive focus on downstream individual behavior and interventions; and methodologies that produce a rigid adherence to positivist approaches which devalue complementary interpretive approaches. This paper considers the potential of the “new” public health approach to promote increased physical activity (and thereby autonomy and improved quality of life) among sedentary older adults.


Physical Activity Physical Activity Level Transtheoretical Model Public Health Approach Public Health Researcher 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • John B. McKinlay
    • 1
  1. 1.New England Research InstitutesWatertownUSA

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