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Influencing public policy on oral health


Jenny M. Lewis, Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University, Universitetsvej 1 4000 Roskilde, Denmark

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In policy studies, an enduring research question is why some issues are taken seriously while others never become a central focus of policy making. This study aims to analyse the predecision stage of policy making and examines the position of oral health on the broader health policy agenda.


A study of networks of influence in health policy in the state of Victoria (Australia) is used to examine the health policy agenda, and the position of oral health within the broader health policy agenda. Social network concepts were used to structure the data collection. Nominations of influential people were collected using a snowball method, followed by interviews with a selection of those nominated.


Combining an assessment of who is seen to be influential with an examination of the issues they are interested in provides insights into how influence helps shape the policy agenda and how this changes over time.


The study describes how oral health might become more central to the health policy agenda through deliberate strategies to change the network structure.

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