Can humanization theory contribute to the philosophical debate in public health?

Public Health. 2012 May;126(5):448-53. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2012.01.014. Epub 2012 Feb 29.


This paper will explore the humanization value framework for research, policy and practice with regard to its relevance for public health, specifically the reduction of inequities in health. This proposed framework introduces humanizing values to influence research, policy and practice. The framework is articulated through eight specific constituents of what it is to be human. These dimensions are articulated as humanizing and dehumanizing dimensions that have the potential to guide both research and practice. The paper will then go on to consider these dimensions in relation to the emergent qualities of the potential 'fifth-wave' of public health intervention. The humanization dimensions outlined in this paper were presented as emerging from Husserl's notion of lifeworld, Heidegger's contemplations about human freedom and being with others, and Merleau-Ponty`s ideas about body subject and body object. Husserl's ideas about the dimensions that make up 'lifeworld', such as embodiment, temporality and spatiality, underpin the suggested dimensions of what it is to be human. They are proposed in the paper as together informing a value base for considering the potentially humanizing and dehumanizing elements in systems and interactions. It is then proposed that such a framework is useful when considering methods in public health, particularly in relation to developing new knowledge of what is both humanizing and dehumanizing within research and practice.

MeSH terms

  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humanism*
  • Humans
  • Philosophy*
  • Public Health*
  • Public Policy*
  • Research