Economic rationalisation of health behaviours: the dangers of attempting policy discussions in a vacuum

Rachel Reilly, Kevin Rowley, Joanne Luke, Joyce Doyle, Rebecca Ritte, Rebekah O'Shea, Alex Brown

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    When analysing the health behaviours of any group of people, understanding the constraints and possibilities for individual agency as shaped by the broader societal context is critical. In recent decades, our understanding of the ways in which physical and social environments influence health and health behaviours has expanded greatly. The authors of a recent analysis of Australian Aboriginal health data using an economic 'rational choice model,' published in this journal, claim to make a useful contribution to policy discussions relating to Aboriginal health, but neglect context. By doing so, they neglect the very factors that determine the success or failure of policy change. Notwithstanding the technical sophistication of the analyses, by ignoring most relevant determinants of health, the conclusions misrepresent the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and therefore risk perpetuating harm, rather than improving health.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)200-203
    Number of pages4
    JournalSocial Science and Medicine
    Volume114
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

    Keywords

    • Aboriginal health
    • Australia
    • Health inequalities
    • Health policy
    • Lifestyle
    • Rational choice model
    • Research ethics
    • Social determinants

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