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A surgical intervention for the body politic: Generation Squeeze applies the Advocacy Coalition Framework to social determinants of health knowledge translation

Paul Kershaw, Eric Swanson, Andrea Stucchi

Abstract


SETTING: The World Health Organization Commission on the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) observes that building political will is central to all its recommendations, because governments respond to those who organize and show up. Since younger Canadians are less likely to vote or to organize in between elections, they are less effective at building political will than their older counterparts. This results in an age gap between SDoH research and government budget priorities. Whereas Global AgeWatch ranks Canada among the top countries for aging, UNICEF ranks Canada among the least generous OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries for the generations raising young children.

INTERVENTION: A surgical intervention into the body politic. Guided by the “health political science” literature, the intervention builds a non-profit coalition to perform science-based, non-partisan democratic engagement to increase incentives for policy-makers to translate SDoH research about younger generations into government budget investments.

OUTCOMES: All four national parties integrated policy recommendations from the intervention into their 2015 election platforms. Three referred to, or consulted with, the intervention during the election. The intervention coincided with all parties committing to the single largest annual increase in spending on families with children in over a decade.

IMPLICATIONS: Since many population-level decisions are made in political venues, the concept of population health interventions should be broadened to include activities designed to mobilize SDoH science in the world of politics. Such interventions must engage with the power dynamics, values, interests and institutional factors that mediate the path by which science shapes government budgets.


Keywords


Knowledge translation; health policy; social determinants of health

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17269/cjph.108.5881