The Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) has announced the publication of a Health Education & Behavior (HE&B) journal supplement devoted to the latest research and practice on policy and environmental approaches to foster healthy communities.
The April supplement, “The Evidence for Policy and Environmental Approaches to Promoting Health,” comprises a dozen peer-reviewed articles and two perspectives examining the state of the evidence on what is working and what is still needed at the community, institutional and societal levels to promote good health across diverse sectors.
Dr. Jo Anne Earp, professor of health behavior at the UNC Chapel-Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health, was a co-guest editor of the supplement.
Rather than focusing on individual health behaviors related to disease and disability, the manuscript collection describes promising advances in social-ecological research related to injury, tobacco, cardiovascular disease, stroke, childhood obesity and food policy. The authors use innovative methodological approaches and multi-level interventions that consider economic modifications, changing social norms, community empowerment, resource redistribution and expanding social networks.
The articles also point to key themes needed to effect policy and systems change. “These themes include the importance of building partnerships and coalitions outside of traditional public health, the need for multi-level approaches that link income, institutions and health outcomes, and the power of market forces to influence health-directed policies,” Dr. Earp said.
Dr. Shelley Golden, clinical assistant professor of health behavior at the Gillings School, is author of a perspective in the supplement titled “Upending the Socioecological Framework.” Dr. Golden is also a Gillings School alumna, with a Master of Public Health degree from the department of health behavior.
Two other Gillings School alumni, Dr. Michelle Kegler, professor of behavioral sciences and health education at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, and Dr. Ken McLeroy, Regents and Distinguished Professor of health promotion and community sciences at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, are co-authors on papers in the special issue. Both Drs. Kegler and McLeroy earned doctoral degrees in health behavior from UNC’s public health school.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation helped to fund the supplement. “Their generous grant, without which this supplement would not have been possible, reflects the Foundation’s current commitment to fostering a culture of health,” Dr. Earp said. “This initiative will rely heavily on policy and environmental changes to effect individual behavior change.”
All articles in the HE&B supplemental issue are available online through open access. Dr. Earp and her colleagues will present a 15-minute session on the supplement at the SOPHE sixty-sixth annual meeting in Portland, OR, on Saturday, April 25.