Sustainability of public health interventions: where are the gaps?

Health Res Policy Syst. 2019 Jan 15;17(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s12961-018-0405-y.


The current scholarly focus on implementation science is meant to ensure that public health interventions are effectively embedded in their settings. Part of this conversation includes understanding how to support the sustainability of beneficial interventions so that limited resources are maximised, long-term public health outcomes are realised, community support is not lost, and ethical research standards are maintained. However, the concept of sustainability is confusing because of variations in terminology and a lack of agreed upon measurement frameworks, as well as methodological challenges. This commentary explores the challenges around the sustainability of public health interventions, with particular attention to definitions and frameworks like Normalization Process Theory and the Dynamic Sustainability Framework. We propose one important recommendation to direct attention to the sustainability of public health interventions, that is, the use of theoretically informed approaches to guide the design, development, implementation, evaluation and sustainability of public health interventions.

Keywords: Sustainability; interventions; programmes; public health.

Publication types

  • Letter

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Ethics, Research
  • Health Resources
  • Humans
  • Program Development
  • Program Evaluation
  • Public Health*
  • Residence Characteristics