Voting, health and interventions in healthcare settings: A scoping review

Public Health Rev

Background: In democracies, voting is an important action through which citizens engage in the political process. Although elections are only one aspect of political engagement, voting sends a signal of support or dissent for policies that ultimately shape the social determinants of health. Social determinants subsequently influence who votes and who does not. Our objective is to examine the existing research on voting and health and on interventions to increase voter participation through healthcare organizations.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review to examine the existing research on voting, health, and interventions to increase voter participation through healthcare organizations. We carried out a search of the indexed, peer-reviewed literature using Ovid MEDLINE (1946–present), PsychINFO (1806–present), Ebsco CINAHL, Embase (1947–present), Web of Science, ProQuest Sociological Abstracts, and Worldwide Political Science Abstracts. We limited our search to articles published in English. Titles and abstracts were reviewed, followed by a full-text review of eligible articles and data extraction. Articles were required to focus on the connection between voting and health, or report on interventions that occurred within healthcare organizations that aimed to improve voter engagement

Results: Our search identified 2041 citations, of which 40 articles met our inclusion criteria. Selected articles dated from 1991–2018 and were conducted primarily in Europe, the USA, and Canada. We identified four interrelated areas explored in the literature: (1) there is a consistency in the association between voting and health; (2) differences in voter participation are associated with health conditions; (3) gaps in voter participation may be associated with electoral outcomes; and (4) interventions in healthcare organizations can increase voter participation.

Conclusion: Voting and health are associated, namely people with worse health tend to be less likely to engage in voting. Differences in voter participation due to social, economic, and health inequities have been shown to have large effects on electoral outcomes. Research gaps were identified in the following areas: long-term effects of voting on health, the effects of other forms of democratic engagement on health, and the broader impact that health providers and organizations can have on voting through interventions in their communities.

Brown CL, Raza D, Pinto AD. Voting, health and interventions in healthcare settings: a scoping review. Public Health Rev. 2020;41:16. Published 2020 Jul 1. PMID: 32626605. DOI: 10.1186/s40985-020-00133-6.

Publication Year: 
2020
Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Review
Social Determinant of Health: 
Not Specified
Outcomes: 
Social Needs/ SDH
Health & Health Behaviors
Screening Research: 
No