Social movements and public health advocacy in action: the UK people's health movement

J Public Health (Oxf). 2016 Sep;38(3):413-416. doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdv085. Epub 2015 Jun 26.


There are growing calls within public health for researchers and practitioners working to improve and protect the public's health to become more involved in politics and advocacy. Such a move takes practitioners and researchers beyond the traditional, evidence-based public health paradigm, raising potential dilemmas and risks for those who undertake such work. Drawing on the example of the People's Health Movement, this short paper argues that advocacy and social movements are an essential component of public health's efforts to achieve great health equity. It outlines how the Scottish branch of the People's Health Movement sought to overcome potential tensions between public health evidence and advocacy by developing a regional manifesto for health via transparent and democratic processes which combine empirical and experiential evidence. We suggest that this is an illustrative example of how potential tensions between public health research and advocacy can be overcome, through bottom-up movements of solidarity and action.

Keywords: advocacy; evidence; people's health movement; public health research and practice; social movements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Advocacy*
  • Humans
  • Politics
  • Public Health*
  • Scotland
  • United Kingdom