The Topic of Health Planning
A growing body of literature found under the rubric of health planning has come into existence since the late 1960s. While the concerns addressed by the health planning literature also fall under the topic headings of health policy and health care delivery, the latter headings are far broader in scope. Moreover, they typically discuss prevailing health care arrangements with the aim of analyzing the impact that such arrangements have on major health indicators, such as mortality and morbidity rates, utilization of health care services, or shifts in health behavior (for example, smoking or use of emergency rooms). In some instances, the effects that might be forthcoming from various alternative arrangements such as pre-paid care, increased co-payment, or reduction in certain basic resources (such as hospital beds or number of surgeons) are also considered. The health planning literature, by contrast, focuses primarily on proposals and programs aiming to alter the processes responsible for the design of the health care delivery system.
If an initial review of this literature does not result in the impression that it is a distinct topic, this may be because the health planning label has been superimposed on earlier works in order to place health planning in a larger historical context. Health planning emerged as an area of interest during the mid 1960s. Any earlier initiatives discussed under this rubric have been so designated retrospectively.
There have been no efforts to reach back to the nineteenth century, since the single most effective method of controlling disease prior to the twentieth century was recognized to be public sanitation. Successful planning efforts carried out by communities to address public sanitation problems are documented in the public health literature. Health care on the individual level prior to the twentieth century did not achieve nearly as much success. It was only toward the end of the nineteenth century that evidence began to accumulate indicating that "regular