Individuals’ health outcomes are influenced not only by their knowledge and behavior, but also by complex social, political and economic forces. Attention to these multi-level factors is necessary to accurately and comprehensively understand and intervene to improve human health. The population health framework is a valuable conceptual framework to guide nurse researchers in identifying and targeting the broad range of determinants of health. However, attention to the intermediate processes linking multi-level factors and use of appropriate multi-level theory and research methodology is critical to utilizing the framework effectively.
Nurse researchers are well equipped to undertake such investigations but need to consider a number of political, societal, professional and organizational barriers to do so. By fully embracing the population health framework, nurse researchers have the opportunity to explore the multi-level influences on health and to develop, implement and evaluate interventions that target immediate needs, more distal factors and the intermediate processes that connect them.