Aim: The aim of this paper is to provide a discussion on how the public health policy process can be influenced by both civil society groups and by public health practitioners. Method: A discussion expressing the views of the author supported by the relevant literature drawn from a wide range of sources and using international case study material on influencing public policy. Discussion: The first part of the paper discusses the role of empowerment in improving health outcomes. The second part of the article discusses the policy development process, and the third part explains, step by step, the opportunities that exist to influence this process by both practitioners and people in civil society. Conclusion: The paper concludes with the question: 'To what extent can external public action have an effect on defining the policy concerns of government?' and draws on the evidence presented in the paper to provide some solutions. The paper will be of interest to the planners and evaluators of public health programmes interested in improving effectiveness and promoting community empowerment approaches.
- Civil society
- Public policy