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Welcome to the project website for Placing the Public in Public Health: Public Health in Britain, 1948-2010

L0070040 Public Health: Bermondsey

Picture: Dental health publicity, Bermondsey. Credit: Southwark Local History & Archive, Wellcome Images

This project is funded by a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities New Investigator Award, awarded to Dr Alex Mold in 2013 and is based in the Centre for History in Public Health at the LSHTM.

The place of the public within public health is a critical issue for contemporary public health in Britain.  Whether it involves appealing to individuals to stop smoking, or asking patients what they think of health services, the ‘public’ is constantly constructed and reconstructed within public health policy and practice.  This project seeks to set these concerns in historical context, aiming to explore and explain the changing place of the public within public health in post-war Britain.

The place of the public within public health between 1948 and 2010 will be interrogated through four research questions:

  1. What was the meaning of the public within public health?
  2. Who spoke for the public in public health?
  3. What was the role of the public within public health?
  4. How responsible for public health was the public thought to be?

These questions will be addressed through four distinct, but inter-linked, projects.  The first considers the changing place of the public within health promotion; the second assesses public opinion and the public’s health through the medium of health surveys; the third examines the place of the public around responses to chronic disease; and the fourth looks at the place of the public within the approaches offered to infectious disease.  Considering the ways in which the public were resistant to, as well as compliant with, public health points to tensions surrounding the place of the public in public health that this award aims to tease out.