Law & Governance

Law & Governance November 2011

Understanding How Context Shapes Citizen-User Involvement in Policy Making

Gayle Restall and Joseph Kaufert


[This article was originally published in HealthcarePolicy 7(2)]

As governments grapple with meeting expectations of citizens and including their voices in policy making, greater understanding of how context influences involvement can help identify ways to involve those citizens who face substantial barriers to inclusion in policy development. This qualitative, instrumental case study focused on the involvement of people who use and need mental health and housing services in policy development in Manitoba. Data were collected from 21 key informants purposively selected from four policy actor groups as well as from relevant documents. Data were analyzed using inductive qualitative methods. Results identified five themes related to contextual influences on involvement: (a) the social environment, (b) institutional characteristics, (c) participant characteristics, (d) opportunities for involvement and (e) ideas and formal policy structures. The findings suggest that policy makers should look to contextual factors to identify ways to reduce the barriers to the inclusion of people with mental health and housing needs in health policy making.



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