Multidisciplinary public health: What sort of victory?

Berridge, V; (2007) Multidisciplinary public health: What sort of victory? Public health, 121 (6). pp. 404-8. ISSN 0033-3506 DOI:

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Multidisciplinary public health (MDPH) has been a phenomenon in the UK of the 1990s and the early 21st century. Its achievement has been seen as a victory for non medical interests. While acknowledging this, the paper questions what sort of victory this represents. Public health in its sanitary phase in the mid-19th century was, after all, what passed for multidisciplinary with its mix of engineers, doctors and statisticians. Is the present simply a return to the sanitary phase? The paper argues that it is not, and that contemporary public health badly needs clearer definition. It identifies three dimensions of recent public health. Public health can be an occupation; a discourse or movement, and also an institutional location of which public health research is part. Looked at in this frame, public health has been multidisciplinary in the post war period. The development of public health research out of social medicine in the 1950s was multidisciplinary. Public health campaigning, separate from public health professionals, has also been multidisciplinary since the 1970s. Public health as an occupation has been preoccupied with its professional positioning. Will the wider multidisciplinary impetus of public health now be lost in a preoccupation with status?

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
Research Centre: Centre for History in Public Health
PubMed ID: 17451764
Web of Science ID: 247585900003


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