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Public health refers to the management and prevention of disease within a population by promoting healthy behaviors and environments in an effort to create a higher standard of living. In this comprehensive volume, editor James W. Holsinger Jr. and an esteemed group of scholars and practitioners offer a concise overview of this burgeoning field, emphasizing that the need for effective services has never been greater.

Designed as a supplemental text for introductory courses in public health practice at the undergraduate and graduate levels, Contemporary Public Health provides historical background that contextualizes the current state of the field and explores the major issues practitioners face today. It addresses essential topics such as the social and ecological determinants of health and their impact on practice, marginalized populations, the role of community-oriented primary care, the importance of services and systems research, accreditation, and the organizational landscape of the American public health system. Finally, it examines international public health and explores the potential of systems based on multilevel partnerships of government, academic, and nonprofit organizations.

With fresh historical and methodological analyses conducted by an impressive group of distinguished authors, this text is an essential resource for practitioners, health advocates, and students.

James W. Holsinger Jr., M.D., Ph.D., is the Charles T. Wethington Jr. Chair in the Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky. He served as secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services from 2003 to 2005.

“A comprehensive, integrated overview of public health in the early twentieth century, something that few, if any, other works provide students. Well written and clear, with an excellent choice of topics.” -- Max Michael, M.D., Dean, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health

“A compilation of valuable information that provides an overview of contemporary topics. The authors include many leaders in the field of public health.” -- Joel M. Lee, Joel M. Lee, Dr.P.H., Director, Doctor of Public Health Degree Program, and Professor of Health Policy and Management, College of Public Health, The University of Georgia

"A major contribution to the understanding of this very important field--past, present and future. It brings together a stellar group of authors and their collective work will be a real help to students, practitioners and policy makers alike. In a time of significant change in health, health care and public health, this work will be of great benefit." -- William L. Roper, M.D., MPH, UNC School of Medicine and UNC Health Care System, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Contemporary Public Health offers a unique depth of wisdom based on a comprehensive analysis of the major forces shaping public health in our time. Dedicated to a true public health genius, Doug Scutchfield, this invaluable text will serve as an authoritative guide and a fascinating source of insights to inspire current and future generations as they serve the public's health." -- Edward L. Baker MD, MPH, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Former Assistant Surgeon General, US Public Health Service

These well written and succinct essays enrich the thoughts and the visions of the field of public health. -- Dr. Michael W. Popejoy -- Dr. Michael W. Popejoy -- Perspectives in Public Health

"If you are interested in more than a superficial and sound-bite driven discussion of the care system, you really need to read 'Contemporary Public Health.' This comprehensive and thought-provoking book will definitely enrich your understnading of thhe disparity between where we are and where we potentially need to be on a topic that ultimately affects us all." -- Aaron W. Hughley, Department of Counseling and Student Affairs, Wesrern Kentucky University

As services for public health in the US face budget cuts and the field looks forward to opportunities provided by the Affordable Care Act, this edited collection of essays provides welcome historical and disciplinary perspectives on these and other contemporary public health issues. -- Choice

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Medical policy, Medical care, Public health, Community health services, United States


Public Health


Edited by James W. Holsinger Jr. Foreword by David M. Lawrence.

Contemporary Public Health: Principles, Practice, and Policy
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