Public health in practice: the three domains of public health

Peter Duncan Donnelly, S Griffiths, T Jewell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


This paper outlines a conceptual model for public health practice by proposing the three domains as a framework to organize and to deliver public health programmes. The model builds on the recognition that public health is everybody's business and therefore, needs a common definitional base. Different levels of skill and a wide range of contributions are needed if public health programmes are to make the most impact. The different domains of practice help to construct a basis for understanding the necessary elements of the public health system and their interactions.

Using teenage pregnancy as a case study of a public health programme highlights the characteristics of the model. It demonstrates not only the importance of the role of directors of public health in taking a population-based overview, but also the need for multisectoral, multidisciplinary working. The relevance of the public health approach not only to primary care but also to the hospital-based sector becomes apparent, as does its relevance to communities, voluntary sector and local government. Integration of the three domains, a common definition and the framework for the public health system will support effective delivery of health improvement. (c) 2005 The Royal Institute of Public Health. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-913
Number of pages7
JournalPublic Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2005


  • public health practice
  • three domains of public health
  • health improvement
  • health protection
  • health service quality
  • public health programmes
  • teenage pregnancy


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