A framework for public health action: the health impact pyramid

Am J Public Health. 2010 Apr;100(4):590-5. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2009.185652. Epub 2010 Feb 18.


A 5-tier pyramid best describes the impact of different types of public health interventions and provides a framework to improve health. At the base of this pyramid, indicating interventions with the greatest potential impact, are efforts to address socioeconomic determinants of health. In ascending order are interventions that change the context to make individuals' default decisions healthy, clinical interventions that require limited contact but confer long-term protection, ongoing direct clinical care, and health education and counseling. Interventions focusing on lower levels of the pyramid tend to be more effective because they reach broader segments of society and require less individual effort. Implementing interventions at each of the levels can achieve the maximum possible sustained public health benefit.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Counseling
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Plan Implementation
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Male
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Public Health*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States