Rediscovering the core of public health

Annu Rev Public Health. 2013:34:287-99. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031912-114433. Epub 2012 Nov 8.


The success of public health has been its ability to understand contemporary health problems, to communicate the needs successfully, to identify solutions, and to implement them through programs and policies. In the past 50 years, those successes can be attributed largely to control of infectious disease, improved maternal and child health, delivery of other personal health care services, and changes in behaviors, particularly smoking. Yet health is primarily a product of our social, cultural, and physical environments. To continue to improve the nation's health and reduce disparities, public health needs to return to its historical roots and engage with other sectors to create healthier communities. To do so requires expanding public health skills in areas such as quantitative policy analysis, communication, and community engagement.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Government
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Public Health / education
  • Public Health / methods*
  • Public Health / standards