Improving health: Structure and agency in health interventions

Alexandra A. Choby, Alexander M. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Taking debates about the roles of structure and agency in health as a lens, this essay asks how Critical Realist and Feminist Intersectional approaches might inform health interventions research. Despite recognition of multiple determinants of health, health problems are often thought of as individual and interventions, in turn, target risky individual behaviours. Such approaches are rooted in a liberal model of personhood. This paper critiques enduring individualist assumptions linked to Western liberal underpinnings embedded in health interventions. It posits the need to include a robust conception of the social world in which change depends on shifting power relations, and individual agency is shaped by power as well as individual will. We propose preliminary steps for undertaking critical realist intersectional interventions research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-101
Number of pages13
JournalNursing Philosophy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr. 2014


  • Agency
  • Critical realism
  • Health interventions
  • Intersectionality
  • Structure


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