Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Public Health

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_338


Public health refers to those activities by which a society attempts to increase life expectancy, decrease morbidity, and help improve health-related quality of life.


There has often been a widespread misconception that public health is limited to “health care for low-income families.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention created a list of the ten Great Public Health Achievements in the twentieth century that remind us of how far we have come, how we got here, and exactly what public health is: the active protection of a nation’s health and safety, credible information to enhance health decisions, and partnerships with local minorities and organizations to promote good health. The choices of topics for this list were based on the opportunity for prevention and the impact on death, illness, and disability: they are not ranked by order of importance. The list includes the following: vaccination, motor-vehicle safety, safer workplaces, control of...

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References and Readings

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (1999). Achievements in public health, 1900–1999; Changes in the public health system. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 48, 1141–1147.Google Scholar
  2. Institute of Medicine. (2001a). Health and behaviour: The interplay of biological, behavioural and societal influences. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  3. Institute of Medicine. (2001b). New horizons in health: An integrative approach. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  4. Kawachi, I. (1999). Social capital and community effects on population and individual health. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 896, 120–130.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Posner, S. F. (2012). Advancing and improving preventing chronic disease: Public health research, practice and policy. Preventing Chronic Disease, 9, 110291. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd9.110291.
  6. Schneider, M. J. (2011). Introduction to public health (2nd ed.). Boston: Jones & Bartlett Learning.Google Scholar
  7. Smedley, B. D., & Syme, S. L. (Eds.). (2000). Promoting health: Intervention strategies from social and behavioural research. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  8. Turnock, B. J. (2012). Essentials of public health (2nd ed.). Boston: Jones & Bartlett Learning.Google Scholar
  9. World Health Organization. (2000). The world health report 2000: Executive summary. Geneva: Author.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral Medicine Research Center, Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA