The emergence of a 'dose-response' analogy in the health improvement domain of public health: a critical

Whitelaw, A. (2012) The emergence of a 'dose-response' analogy in the health improvement domain of public health: a critical. Critical Public Health, (doi: 10.1080/09581596.2012.682147)

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Public Health specialists have increasingly deployed the concept of ‘dose–response’ in areas such as diet (‘5-a-day’), alcohol (‘21 weekly units’) and physical activity (‘150 minutes of weekly activity’). Using these examples and a case study that sought to establish an optimal dose of physical activity for mental health gain, this article offers a critical assessment of the nature, robustness and function of ‘dose’ in public health. Drawing on a ‘sociology of knowledge’, the article argues that dose–response can best be considered an analogy that does not necessarily translate favorably from its original expression in toxicology to some public health domains – an overextended analogy. Rather than having technical robustness, its attractiveness and utility is seen to lie in it possessing ‘cultural capital’, here, the ability to link behavioural concerns to clinical practice, to simplify complex ideas and to act as a regulatory form of behavioural governance. The article is skeptical of further empirical pursuits in identifying optimal doses and offers an alternative

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Whitelaw, Dr Alexander
Authors: Whitelaw, A.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social & Environmental Sustainability
Journal Name:Critical Public Health
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
Published Online:30 April 2012

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