Skip to main content

Table 1 Classification of public health: six top-level classes and their working definitions

From: A multidimensional classification of public health activity in Australia

Class Working definition
Functions Public health functions. The purpose of public health interventions, actions, activities and programs.
Health Issues Health, and well-being issues that affect health ('issues' includes: concerns, topics, problems). Health is defined (by the WHO) as 'a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity'.
Determinants of Health Factors that influence health status and determine health differentials or health inequalities. They include, for example, natural, biological factors, such as age, sex and ethnicity; behaviour and lifestyles, such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and physical activity; physical and social factors, including employment and education, housing quality, the workplace and the wider urban and rural environment; and access to health care [a].
Methods The methods used by organised public health interventions (actions, activities, programs, services) to protect and promote health and prevent illness, injury and disability, that are designed to change population exposure, behavioural or health status.
Settings Settings in which public health activities and interventions take place, institutional and social environments, partnerships, and locations (e.g. schools, local government, hospitals, workplaces).
Resources and Infrastructure Resources and infrastructure, the means available for the operation of health systems, including human resources, facilities, equipment and supplies, financial funds and knowledge [b]. It includes both person-time and calendar time.
  1. Source: Gruszin S, Jorm L, Churches T, Straton J: Public Health Classifications Project Phase One: Final Report: Report to the National Public Health Partnership Group. Melbourne: National Public Health Partnership; 2005.
  2. [a] World Health Organisation: Health Impact Assessment (HIA): Glossary of terms used. Geneva; 2006.
  3. [b] World Health Organization: Health Promotion Glossary. Geneva; 1998. [WHO/HPR/HEP/98.1]