Study title
An exploration of health visitors’ understanding of the principle of “influencing policies affecting health” and its realisation in practice.

Research Student
Jan Lewis , College of Human and Health Science, Swansea University.

PhD Supervisors
Professor Joy Merrell & Dr Fiona Murphy.

Date awarded
PhD in progress

This qualitative study seeks to develop a greater understanding of how health visitors contribute and interact with policy. The ‘Influence on policies affecting health’ is the third of the four core principles of health visiting practice (CETHV 1977, Cowley & Frost 2006). Despite recognition of the significant role of health visitors in identifying health inequalities and social justice issues, and a clearly stated remit within the profession’s core principles to influence policy, there have been no studies which have explored this aspect of the health visiting role.

This study explores what influencing policies affecting health means in practice to health visitors who are working at the frontline in generic caseloads, within Flying Start and as practice teachers, along with those working in education, health visitor managers/leaders and those who have a direct role in influencing policy makers at regional and national level.A combination of data collection methods are being used including focus groups, individual interviews, observational methods and review of relevant documents.

This study aims to provide valuable viewpoints from across practice, education, management and strategic levels allowing for a full picture of understandings, meanings and realties to be built up in relation to the principle of  influencing policies affecting health.It is anticipated that the findings from this study may also have some relevance for similar professional and occupational groups working in frontline public sector roles.