Implications of health as ‘the ability to adapt and self-manage’ for public health policy: a qualitative study

M. Jambroes*, T. Nederland, M. Kaljouw, K. van Vliet, M.L. Essink-Bot, D. Ruwaard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: To explore the implications for public health policy of a new conceptualisation of health as 'The ability to adapt and to self-manage, in the face of social, physical and emotional challenges'. Methods: Secondary qualitative data analysis of 28 focus group interviews, with 277 participants involved in public health and healthcare, on the future of the Dutch healthcare system. WHO's essential public health operations (EPHOs) were used as a framework for analysis. Results: Starting from the new concept of health, participants perceived health as an individual asset, requiring an active approach in the Dutch population towards health promotion and adaptation to a healthy lifestyle. Sectors outside healthcare and public health were considered as resources to support individual lifestyle improvement. Integrating prevention and health promotion in healthcare is also expected to stimulate individuals to comply with a healthy lifestyle. Attention should be paid to persons less skilled to self-manage their own health, as this group may require a healthcare safety net. The relationship between individual and population health was not addressed, resulting in little focus on collective prevention to achieve health. Conclusions: The new concept of health as a basis for changes in the healthcare system offers opportunities to create a health-promoting societal context. However, inequalities in health within the general population may increase when using the new concept as an operationalisation of health. For public health, the main challenge is to maintain focus on the collective socioeconomic and environmental determinants of health and disease and, thereby, preserve collective prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-416
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date24 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


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