The past few years have seen the emergence of claims that the political determinants of health do not get due consideration and a growing demand for better insights into public policy analysis in the health research field. Several public health and health promotion researchers are calling for better training and a stronger research culture in health policy. The development of these studies tends to be more advanced in health promotion than in other areas of public health research, but researchers are still commonly caught in a naïve, idealistic and narrow view of public policy. This article argues that the political science discipline has developed a specific approach to public policy analysis that can help to open up unexplored levers of influence for public health research and practice and that can contribute to a better understanding of public policy as a determinant of health. It describes and critiques the public health model of policy analysis, analyzes political science's specific approach to public policy analysis, and discusses how the politics of research provides opportunities and barriers to the integration of political science's distinctive contributions to policy analysis in health promotion.
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