Influencing public policies: Two (very good) reasons to look toward scientific knowledge in public policy

François Gagnon, Olivier Bellefleur


The healthy public policy movement rests on the belief that a range of public policies should be at least partly informed by evidence demonstrating the positive effects of these policies on population health, health inequalities and their determinants. In order to address certain difficulties that the movement faces, knowledge produced in various scientific disciplines regarding public policies may provide some valuable guidance.

In this short commentary, we examine how knowledge from the scientific disciplines investigating public policies makes it possible to address two difficulties in the development of healthy public policies: 1) adequately anticipating the effects of public policies, and 2) assessing the political viability of the policies being promoted. Since urban traffic policies are of interest to most of the other contributors to this supplement, we use examples from this field to illustrate some of our points.


Public policy; effects; context; scales; temporal horizons; political viability