Public health policy has great potential to affect the health of populations. Public health policy shapes many aspects of our lives from the types of products permitted for consumption to the standards that guide clinical practice. Public health policy is itself shaped by many intersecting factors such as social norms, commercial interests and ideas of the role of government in promoting and protecting the health of an individual. The process of policy making and implementation thus requires attention and scrutiny to ensure that public policy is oriented towards ensuring optimal health. My research program examines how the policy process, namely the conditions that influence policy development and implementation, impacts how tobacco and food products are regulated and how the mental health system is structured. These two policy domains provide important cases to better understand how decisions are made in complex institutional contexts and how best to facilitate cooperation and coordination to improve health outcomes.
This research critically examines how actors engage in the policy process and what channels they use to influence this process. In addition, my research program identifies the conditions that shape decision-making including relationships between sectors of government and between government and other actors, dominant ideas of how a health issue should be addressed through policy (i.e. the best "good") or how to deal with commercial interests in public deliberations. By understanding the conditions that shape policy my research program can provide tangible recommendations to build institutions that foster cooperation and coordination across sectors and levels of government and among different actors who are committed to health objectives.