In this paper, we set out to explore three expressions commonly used in public health discourse: public policy, the social determinants of health and population health.
Our goal in taking a keywords approach to these concepts is above all to clarify them. First, we want to briefly introduce the range and depth of these common expressions in order to make them more accessible, particularly for readers who work in public health and use these terms in everyday discussions with colleagues. Having a sense of the range of meanings and the origins of these terms might help people to communicate, plan, and work in greater harmony.
Second, when we reflect on some of the broad social aims of public health, it is clear that working multisectorally is an essential part of work for many if not all public health actors. For those who wish to advance population health objectives and contribute to developing healthy public policies, these aims will oblige us to communicate and work within public health but also outside it with other sectors such as education, urban planning, and social work. In addition, we may also work with decision makers, community developers, not-for-profit organizations, various levels of government, and others. A keywords approach helps us to be aware of the importance of the expressions we use; conceptual clarity becomes even more necessary as we cross sectoral boundaries and work at different levels or with different group.