What is policy, systems, and environmental change?
Policy, systems and environmental (PSE) change is a way of modifying the environment to make healthy choices practical and available to all community members. By changing laws and shaping physical landscapes, a big impact can be made with little time and resources. By changing policies, systems and/or environments, communities can help tackle health issues like tobacco control, access to affordable fruits and vegetables, design of safe sidewalks and bike lanes, and baby-friendly hospitals. PSEs in communities that make healthy choices easy, safe, and affordable can have a positive impact on the way people live, learn, work, and play. At the end of the day, an effective PSE approach should seek to reach populations and uncover strategies for impact that are sustainable.
About policy change
- Policy change includes policies at the legislative or organizational level.
- Policy change includes institutionalizing new rules or procedures as well as passing laws, ordinances, resolutions,
- Government bodies (federal, state, local level), school districts and schools, park districts, healthcare organizations (hospitals, health systems), work sites and other community institutions (jails, daycare centers, senior living centers, faith institutions) all make policy change.
- Policies greatly influence the choices we make in our lives. Laws that are passed (like workplace policies, school policies) greatly influence the daily decisions we make about our health.
About systems change
- System change involves change made to the rules within an organization.
- Systems change and policy change often work hand-in-hand.
- Systems change impacts all elements of an organization. Often systems change focuses on changing infrastructure within a school, park, work site or health setting.
About environmental change
- Environmental change is a change made to the physical environment.
- Physical (structural changes or programs or service), social (a positive change in attitudes or behavior about policies that promote health or an increase in supportive attitudes regarding a health practice), and economic factors (presence of financial disincentives or incentives to encourage a desired behavior) influence people’s practices and behaviors.
- While related to the environment, such changes are not isolated to a few households or individuals, but instead reflect a population focused effort.
- Environmental change can be as simple as installing bike signage on already established bike routes or as complex as sidewalk installation and pedestrian friendly intersections to promote walking and biking among its citizens
Event/Program versus PSE Change
Characteristics of event or program:
- One time
- Addictive: often time results in only short-term behavior change
- Individual level
- Not part of ongoing plan
Characteristics of PSE change:
- Foundational: often produces behavior change over time
- Community/Population level
- Part of an ongoing plan