Health Capability: Conceptualization and Operationalization

American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 100, No.1, pp. 41-49, 2010

9 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2009 Last revised: 17 Dec 2010

See all articles by Jennifer Prah Ruger

Jennifer Prah Ruger

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice; University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine

Date Written: November 17, 2009

Abstract

Current theoretical approaches to bioethics and public health ethics propose varied justifications as the basis for health care and public health, yet none capture a fundamental reality: people seek good health and the ability to pursue it. Existing models do not effectively address these twin goals.

The approach I espouse captures both of these orientations through a concept here called health capability. Conceptually, health capability illuminates the conditions that affect health and one’s ability to make health choices. By respecting the health consequences individuals face and their health agency, health capability offers promise for finding a balance between paternalism and autonomy. I offer a conceptual model of health capability and present a health capability profile to identify and address health capability gaps.

Keywords: health, health capability, bioethics, public health ethics, health agency

JEL Classification: I10, I31, I00

Suggested Citation

Prah Ruger, Jennifer, Health Capability: Conceptualization and Operationalization (November 17, 2009). American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 100, No.1, pp. 41-49, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1508006

Jennifer Prah Ruger (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - School of Social Policy & Practice ( email )

3701 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
United States

University of Pennsylvania - Perelman School of Medicine

423 Guardian Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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