Health policy in South Australia 2003–10: primary health care workforce perceptions of the impact of policy change on health promotion
Jolley, Gwyneth Margaret
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Issue addressed This paper examines recent Australian health reform policies and considers how the primary health care workforce experiences subsequent change and perceives its impact on health promotion practice. Methods Health policy documents were analysed to determine their intended impact on health promotion. Interviews were conducted with 39 respondents from four State funded primary health care services to gain their perceptions of the impact of policy change on health promotion. Results There have been a plethora of policy and strategy documents over the last decade relevant to primary health care and these suggest an intention to strengthen health promotion. However, respondents report that changes to the role and focus of primary health care services have led to fewer opportunities for health promotion. Services are struggling to engage in health promotion activity, while funding and policy directions are prioritised to targeted, individual behaviour change. onclusion The experience of primary health care workforce respondents in South Australia suggests that, despite policy intentions, health promotion practice is much reduced. Our research suggests that rigorous evaluation of health sector reforms should be undertaken to assess both intended and unintended outcomes on service quality and delivery. So what? Health promoters are experiencing a contradictory policy and practice environment and this research should assist health promoters to advocate for more government accountability in the implementation of policies in order to advance comprehensive primary health care.
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