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Addressing individual behaviours and living conditions: Four Nordic public health policies

https://arctichealth.org/en/permalink/ahliterature101197
Source
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2011 Mar;39(6 suppl):6-10
Publication Type
Article
Date
Mar-2011
Author
Vallgårda, S
Author Affiliation
Unit of Health Services Research, Institute of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade, Copenhagen, Denmark
Source
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2011 Mar;39(6 suppl):6-10
Date
Mar-2011
Language
English
Geographic Location
Denmark
Finland
Norway
Sweden
Publication Type
Article
Keywords
Behavior
Health Policy
Health promotion
Liberalism
Nordic countries
Public Health
Responsibility
Social Conditions
Social democracy
Abstract
AIMS: To identify characteristics of the public health policies of four Nordic countries concerning how they present the causes of ill health, the best ways to deal with these causes, and where to place responsibility; additionally, to investigate whether there is a common Nordic policy. METHODS: Analyses of recent public health programs in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. RESULTS: Focus is on either, or both, individual behavior and living conditions as causes of ill health; the remedies are classical liberal as well as social democratic policies. None of the programs is consistent with either ideological strand; each has its peculiar combination of interpretations and policies. The Danish program is the most liberal focusing on behaviors and individual's choices; the Norwegian program is the most social democratic or social liberal focusing mostly on the social and physical environment and the politicians' responsibility to improve the population's health. The Swedish and the Finnish programs lie between those of Denmark and Norway. The Finnish and Norwegian governments stress their responsibility for the health of the population. CONCLUSIONS: No common Nordic political approach to public health exists. All programs contain contradictory policies and ideological statements with differences regarding the emphasis on individual behavior versus choice and living conditions and political responsibility. The policies are not entirely predictable from the political stance of the government; national differences seem to play a role.
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