Diffusion of Healthy Public Policies

Governments and other decision-making bodies rarely make policy decisions in isolation. Instead, they often learn from each other to develop and implement policies that are best suited for their jurisdictions, in a process known as policy diffusion. In this way, governments can adopt novel policy solutions to public health issues based on the evidence and experience of other jurisdictions, which may help to save on time and other resources.

Knowledge of policy diffusion allows the general public, practitioners, policy makers, and researchers to better understand how policies spread from place to place, and understand why some decision-makers adopt new policies more readily than others. Findings from policy diffusion research may be used to recommend improvements to existing policy and to promote the development of future healthy public policies related to chronic disease prevention.

The PLACE Research Lab was part of the POWER UP! Collaboration to explain the spread of healthy public policies across jurisdictions in Canada. We conducted three studies to explore the diffusion of:

1) provincial school-based daily physical activity policies;

2) municipal bylaws banning fast food drive-through services; and

3) municipal resolutions promoting access to drinking water in public spaces.

Olstad, D.L., Campbell, E.J., Raine, K.D., & Nykiforuk, C.I. (2015). A multiple case history and review of adoption, diffusion, implementation and impact of provincial daily physical activity policies in Canadian schools. BMC Public Health, 15(385). DOI: 10.1186/s12889-015-1669-6. Epub ahead of print: April 14, 2015. PubMed PMID: 25885026. http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-015-1669-6

2013-2016 Canadian Partnership Against Cancer’s Coalitions Linking Action & Science for Prevention (CLASP) program