Three Reviews of JPHMP’s 21 Public Health Case Studies on Policy and Administration

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Review of JPHMP’s 21 Public Health Case Studies on Policy and Administration by Amy Hagopian, University of Washington

The Journal of Public Health Management and Practice’s 21 Public Health Case Studies on Policy and Administration, by Lloyd Novick, Cynthia Morrow, and Carole Novick, editors. Wolters Kluwer, publisher, 2018, p 1-368. Book includes complimentary access to electronic versions of the cases and supplementary material.

The editors (Novick, Morrow, and Novick) present a collection of 21 cases covering a wide variety of public health topics–for study in the classroom, or by public health practitioners in the workplace, or those simply curious. The table of contents presents the titles, but a cross-walked guide links each case to one or more of the new (2016) competencies named as graduation requirements for Master of Public Health students by the Council for Education for Public Health. The 64 contributing writers, who come from health departments, universities, government policy offices, think tanks, and other settings, have assembled stories from their experiences and observations, all well-cited, and averaging about 15 pages each. Most cases have an epilogue, describing where the story stood at the time of publication. Questions for the reader follow the case, to stimulate critical analysis and discussion.

The cases are mostly success stories. For example, containing Ebola in Nigeria against the odds, the nearly 10-year struggle to pass a sugar-sweetened beverage tax in Philadelphia (and another story about NY City’s journey on the same path), and how public health officials solved a riveting typhoid outbreak mystery among Hasidic Jews in New York City (and managed the press). There are also some cautionary tales among these cases, though: attracting a full-service grocery store to a neglected Syracuse neighborhood ended the local small Lebanese grocery that had helped build community there for 98 years, and an effort in London to bring bicycle infrastructure to increase physical activity and reduce car use didn’t really move the needle on the city’s cycling rates.

The cases provide excellent fodder for classroom discussion. Each case features a protagonist leading a team, which offers students an opportunity to critique their choices. Most cases contain tables describing stakeholders, detailed timelines, statistical evidence, and other juicy nuggets of detail.

What Others Are Saying:

Steven M. Teutsch, MD, MPH

A book of case studies can be dry reading. Not so the new book by Lloyd and Carole Novick and Cynthia Morrow. Drawing on the authors’ decades of practical experience and case studies in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, this new book (and the accompanying eBook) presents a broad array of public health challenges from infectious disease and chronic disease to development of evidence-based guidelines and a system of accreditation. Along the way, the cases present the challenges of collaboration among stakeholders, resistance to change, and sensitivity to the needs and perspectives of communities and individuals. Each case presents the challenges, the personalities, the institutions, and the paths taken. Some were smashing successes, others show steps along the way, and many are still works in progress. Some, such as public health ethics, include continuing conundrums. All provoke readers to consider the options chosen and those that were not. This is a book about how things get done, about leadership, management, teamwork, policy, and driving change – central activities of day to day public health rather than technical details and scientific methodology (though there is some of that, too).

These case studies are suitable for use by students and practitioners. The discussion questions that conclude each case are an excellent starting point for groups to consider how they might have approached similar situations and what the pros and cons of the available options might be. This tidy volume should find its way into the curricula in schools of public health, management, and policy.


Jay Maddock, PhD, Dean, Texas A & M School of Public Health

This is an excellent book consisting of 21 real life case studies in public health. One of the challenges in teaching public health to students is that most text books are written by professors that have little experience in “real world” situations. As someone who spent 15+ years working directly with a state health department, what I read in textbooks was not usually the way in went in a health department. The case studies are fun to read and engaging. They cover a variety of topics from Ebola to taxing sugar-sweetened beverages. I am excited to use this book to teach public health students.

Read a few of the case studies also published in the Journal of Public Health Management & Practice:*

*may require purchase or subscription to JPHMP


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