A Next Generation Assets-Based Public Health Intervention Development Model: The Public as Innovators

Frontiers in Public Health, 6(248). doi:10.3389/fpubh.2018.00248.

11 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2016 Last revised: 26 Jan 2019

See all articles by Christiana von Hippel

Christiana von Hippel

University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health

Date Written: September 4, 2018


In the public health field, the design of interventions has long been considered to be the province of public health experts. In this paper, I explore an important complement to the traditional model: the design, prototyping, and implementation of innovative public health interventions by the public (users) themselves. These user interventions can then be incorporated by public health experts, who in turn design, support, and implement improvements and diffusion strategies as appropriate for the broader community. The context and support for this proposed new public health intervention development model builds upon user innovation theory, which has only recently begun to be applied to research and practice in medicine and provides a completely novel approach in the field of public health. User innovation is an assets-based model in which end users of a product, process, or service are the locus of innovation and often more likely than producers to develop the first prototypes of new approaches to problems facing them. This occurs because users often possess essential context-specific information about their needs paired with the motivation that comes from directly benefiting from any solutions they create. Product producers in a wide range of fields have, in turn, learned to profit from the strengths of these user innovators by supporting their grass-roots, leading-edge designs and field experiments in various ways. I explore the promise of integrating user-designed and prototyped health interventions into a new assets-based public health intervention development model. In this exploration, a wide range of lead user methods and positive deviance studies provide examples for identification of user innovation in populations, community platforms, and healthcare programs. I also propose action-oriented and assets-based next steps for user-centered public health research and practice to implement this new model. This approach will enable us to call upon the strengths of the communities we serve as we develop new methods and approaches to more efficiently and effectively intervene on the varied complex health problems they face.

Keywords: User Innovation, Public Health, Positive Deviance

Suggested Citation

von Hippel, Christiana, A Next Generation Assets-Based Public Health Intervention Development Model: The Public as Innovators (September 4, 2018). Frontiers in Public Health, 6(248). doi:10.3389/fpubh.2018.00248.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2831232 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2831232

Christiana Von Hippel (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health ( email )

50 University Hall #7360
Berkeley, CA 94720-7360
United States

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