How does societal reaction to children's health issues contribute to health policy in Europe? Results of a survey

Kinga Zdunek*, Peter Schroder-Back, Denise Alexander, Michael Rigby, Mitch Blair

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background In the European context the awareness of societal responsibility for children's health has increased with greater attention to children's rights and child empowerment processes. Child health issues are considered particularly sensitive; thus, they often provoke strong societal reactions, which, as a consequence, influence national health policies across Europe. Effectiveness of societal influences increases with the involvement of various actors in the context. Methods A qualitative approach was used to identify the level of societal involvement in health decision-making. A questionnaire was sent to the Country Agents (CAs) of the Models of Child Health Appraised (MOCHA) project. CAs are contact points in each of the 30 participating in the project countries and were asked to identify strong public and professional discussions related to child health services in their countries. Data collection was undertaken between July and December 2016. Results Based on 71 case studies, we identified eight thematic patterns, which characterize societal reactions to the currently worrisome child health issues across Europe. We devoted our attention to the three most controversial: child vaccination, child poverty and child abuse. The cases described by the CAs show the broad perspective in the perception of child health problems. Child health issues involve the public and raise nationwide debates. Public concerns were directly or indirectly related to child health and depicted the national overtone. Conclusions Concerns in Europe about child health care are twofold: they are devoted to systemic issues (indirect patient orientation) and to child health and well-being (direct patient orientation). The phenomenon of societal responsibility for children's health is important for the support of public acceptance of child health policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-370
Number of pages7
JournalChild Care Health and Development
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • child health care
  • health policy
  • societal reactiveness
  • societal responsibility

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