Sharpening the Health Policy Analytical Rapier; Comment on “The Politics and Analytics of Health Policy”

Document Type : Commentary


Health Services Management Centre, School of Social Policy, The University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK


This commentary on the Editorial ‘The politics and analytics of health policy’ by Professor Calum Paton focuses on two issues. First, it points to the unclear links between ideas, ideology, values, and discourse and policy, and warns that discourse is often a poor guide to enacted policy. Second, it suggests that realism, particularly ‘programme theory’ are useful tools for health policy analysis. ‘Market reform’ cannot be reduced to a simple ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ verdict, and programme theory might suggest that certain mechanisms may be good for one outcome in a particular context, but bad for another.




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Main Subjects

  1. Paton CR. The politics and analytics of health policy. Int J Health Policy Manag 2014; 2: 105–7. doi: 10.15171/ijhpm.2014.26
  2. Powell M, Miller R. Privatizing the English National Health Service: An Irregular Verb? J Health Polit Policy Law 2013; 38: 1053–61. doi: 10.1215/03616878-2334918
  3. Powell M. Making markets in the English National Health Service.Soc Policy Adm 2014; forthcoming.
  4. Pawson R, Tilley N. Realistic Evaluation. London: Sage; 1997. doi: 10.1177/001789699905800111
  5. Gingrich J. Making Markets in the Welfare State. Cambridge: Cambridge  University  Press; 2011. doi: 10.1017/s1537592713000601