Policy, System and Environmental Change

Definitions of Policy System and Environmental Change


Policy: Laws, regulations, rules, protocols, and procedures, designed to guide or influence behavior. Policies can be either legislative or organizational in nature. Policies often mandate environmental changes and increase the likelihood that they will become more permanent (institutionalized or sustainable).


Examples of legislative policies: Taxes on tobacco products, provision of county or city public land for green spaces or farmers' markets, or clean indoor air laws.


Examples of organizational policies: Menu labeling in restaurants, required quality assurance protocols or practices (e.g., clinical care processes), or a human resources policy that requires healthy foods to be served at meetings.


Environmental Change: Alteration or change to physical, social, or economic environments designed to influence people's practices and behaviors.


Examples include:


Structural change or the presence of programs or services:

·         Healthy food choices in restaurants or cafeterias,

·         Improvements in the built environment to promote walking (e.g., walking paths),

·         Availability of smoking cessation services to patients or workers

·         The presence of comprehensive school health education curricula in schools


A positive change in attitudes or behavior about policies that promote health:

·         Increase in favorable attitudes community decision makers have about the importance of nonsmoking policies

Increase in non-acceptance of exposure to secondhand smoke from the general public.