Primary health care in a multi-level perspective: towards a research agenda

Soc Sci Med. 1990;30(9):1025-34. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(90)90149-m.


The authors propose to view primary health care (PHC) from a multi-level perspective. Studying how PHC is conceived and implemented at different levels of social organization (e.g. in international agencies, national governments, regional centres of health care and local communities) will reveal which interests may be competing in the planning and execution of what broadly and conveniently is called 'PHC'. Mapping out these conflicting views and interests will contribute towards a better understanding of how PHC works or why it does not work and provide suggestions for a more effective and equitable PHC. Five themes are proposed for a multi-level research approach: (1) vertical versus horizontal organization of PHC: (2) the role of medical personnel in PHC; (3) the distribution of pharmaceuticals; (4) the integration of traditional medicine in PHC; and (5) family planning.

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries
  • International Cooperation
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*