Supporting the diffusion of healthy public policy in Canada: the Prevention Policies Directory
Healthy public policy plays an essential role in a comprehensive public health approach to preventing cancer and chronic disease. Public policies spread through the ‘policy diffusion’ process, enabling governments to learn from another’s enacted policy solutions. The Prevention Policies Directory (the Directory), an online database of municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal cancer and chronic disease prevention policies from across Canada, was developed to facilitate the diffusion of healthy public policies and support the work of prevention researchers, practitioners, and policy specialists. Through a participatory engagement approach, this information technology solution was implemented as a communication channel or policy knowledge transfer tool. It also addressed the intrinsic shortcomings of environmental scanning for policy surveillance and monitoring. A combination of quantitative web metrics and qualitative anecdotal evidence have illustrated that the Directory is becoming an important tool for healthy public policy surveillance and policy diffusion in Canada.