Chapter 26: The political economy of health systems: research space, goals and lessons
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Notwithstanding the growing number of scientific contributions suggesting that politics matters for health care decision-making, the “political economy of health and health care” is not yet a well-established area of study, and it may still be too early to define with sufficient precision what is and is not the political economy of health systems. A defining characteristic is that it is an area of inquiry that benefits from the contributions made by scholars from several disciplines, such as politics and international relations, economics (and especially health economics), public health, or sociology of health, that are all interested in questions connecting politics, health care, and health. Certainly, these disciplines differ in the approaches used to provide answers to these common questions, the type of methods adopted more than the question itself, and possibly the “rationality” assumptions relative to patients, managers, hospitals, or the ministry of health, as well as the units of analysis, whether individuals, organizations, or processes.

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