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Keywords:

  • conceptual framework;
  • multi-level;
  • nursing;
  • population health;
  • research

MACDONALD SE, NEWBURN-COOK CV, ALLEN M and REUTTER L. Nursing Inquiry 2013; 20: 30–41 Embracing the population health framework in nursing research

Individuals’ health outcomes are influenced not only by their knowledge and behavior, but also by complex social, political and economic forces. Attention to these multi-level factors is necessary to accurately and comprehensively understand and intervene to improve human health. The population health framework is a valuable conceptual framework to guide nurse researchers in identifying and targeting the broad range of determinants of health. However, attention to the intermediate processes linking multi-level factors and use of appropriate multi-level theory and research methodology is critical to utilizing the framework effectively. Nurse researchers are well equipped to undertake such investigations but need to consider a number of political, societal, professional and organizational barriers to do so. By fully embracing the population health framework, nurse researchers have the opportunity to explore the multi-level influences on health and to develop, implement and evaluate interventions that target immediate needs, more distal factors and the intermediate processes that connect them.