An Introduction to Policy

The definition of “policy” unfortunately, can be elusive. Oftentimes, setting is paramount. For the purposes of this manual, “policy” is not limited to legislation (bills and laws). Policy, in our scope of interest, also refers to public policy– which includes a broad range of activities. It boils down to simply what government, or those in power, choose to do or not do. ​

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a closer look at the connection between public health and policy HERE: The CDC identifies policy creation, championship, and implementation as an essential public health service (1).

What is Policy?


For example, “Health in All Policies: A Guide for State and Local Governments” was written by the public health facilitators of the California Health in All Policies Task Force and is geared toward state and local government leaders. Even it includes a section to clarify that policy is not simply what is current law, but can be derived from a multitude of sources and agencies.​

(Source: Rudolph, L., Caplan, J., Ben-Moshe, K., & Dillon, L. (2013). Health in All Policies: A Guide for State and Local Governments. Washington, DC and Oakland, CA: American Public Health Association and Public Health Institute. ) ​



  2. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee for the Study of the Future of Public Health. The Future of Public Health. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1988. Available from: 10.17226/1091



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