Power is a growing area of study for researchers and practitioners working in the field of health policy and systems research (HPSR). Theoretical development and empirical research on power are crucial for providing deeper, more nuanced understandings of the mechanisms and structures leading to social inequities and health disparities; placing contemporary policy concerns in a wider historical, political and social context; and for contributing to the (re)design or reform of health systems to drive progress towards improved health outcomes.
Nonetheless, explicit analyses of power in HPSR remain relatively infrequent, and there are no comprehensive resources that serve as theoretical and methodological starting points. This paper aims to fill this gap by providing a consolidated guide to researchers wishing to consider, design and conduct power analyses of health policies or systems.
This practice article presents a synthesis of theoretical and conceptual understandings of power; describes methodologies and approaches for conducting power analyses; discusses how they might be appropriately combined; and throughout reflects on the importance of engaging with positionality through reflexive praxis. Expanding research on power in health policy and systems will generate key insights needed to address underlying drivers of health disparities and strengthen health systems for all.