Practicing health geography in public health

A focus on population-health-intervention research

Authored by: Mylene Riva , Sarah M. Mah

Routledge Handbook of Health Geography

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138098046
eBook ISBN: 9781315104584
Adobe ISBN:


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The affinity between health geography and public health is clear (Curtis, Riva and Rosenberg, 2009; Dummer, 2008). Addressing questions of space, place and scale as shaping health and well-being is crucial to public-health practice and to population-health research and intervention (Dummer, 2008) and constitutes the crux of health geography. Public health is “the organized efforts of society to keep people healthy and prevent injury, illness and premature death. It is a combination of programs, services and policies that protect, promote, and restore the health of all people” (Last, 2001, p. 145). In this chapter, we refer to “population health” as it is defined in Canada: as the science underpinning the practice of public health and understandings about how health is generated and distributed in populations (Dunn and Hayes, 1999; Hawe and Potvin, 2009). While the overlap between public and population health is extensive, population health is in the unique position to broaden our understandings of health, because the approach is interdisciplinary, is intersectoral and embraces complexity. Population health recognizes health as emerging from the interactions between individuals and social and political processes operating over the life course in particular settings.

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