Article

Health and Risk Policymaking, the Precautionary Principle, and Policy Advocacy

Roxanne L. Parrott

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication


Published online May 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780190228613 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228613.013.217

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Health and risk policymaking focuses on decisions made and actions undertaken to set standards and pass laws to promote healthcare and public health quality, while achieving global health security. Policymakers in governments and institutions deliberate for the purposes of achieving effective and efficient policies, revealing both acceptance and rejection of evidence from health and risk, prevention, and economic sciences, as well as gaps in these domains. Health and risk communicators function implicitly within the boundaries of these decisions and actions, while contributing to prevention science related to strategic messaging and information dissemination. Policymakers face barriers to their efforts residing in the sheer volume of health and risk sciences research; the lack of evidence demonstrating that policies lead to intended outcomes (often, because a policy has not been trialed/implemented); and the absence of economic analyses associated with costs of interventions proposed and undertaken. The precautionary principle (PP) based on adopting caution when evidence is absent, uncertain, or ambiguous regarding possible harm to humans or the environment may function as a guide in some situations. Advocates may draw attention to particular issues in other cases. Policies may be stalled owing to the policy context, including election cycles, legislative and institutional bureaucracies, competing agendas, and fragmented systems of healthcare. Health and risk communicators may collaborate with policymakers and work to translate evidence into useful formats to facilitate the application of evidence to policymaking decisions and actions.

Keywords: health and risk policy; health and risk science; prevention science; economic science; precautionary principle (PP); health advocates; nonprofits; nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); strategic messaging; knowledge translation; policy briefs

Article.  16659 words. 

Subjects: Communication Studies

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