Exploring different interpretations of the capability approach in a health care context: where next?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
1482 Downloads (Pure)


In comparing the first applications of the capability approach to health and health care by Ruger with three subsequent interpretations of the capability approach, this paper identifies two distinct motivations: (i) the adoption of capability as an alternative to utilitarian health maximisation, in the context of resource allocation; (ii) facilitating agreement on a core concept of health (incorporating mortality, morbidity and health agency) with which to drive policy reform.
Where there is already comprehensive healthcare coverage research is evolving to consider the broader impact of health on well-being and facilitate the joint evaluation of health and social care services. Although measures developed within this ‘expansionist’ framework are becoming increasingly well used, their inclusion of health itself requires greater consideration.
The health capability paradigm adopts health capability as a holistic object of health policy broadly conceived. Whilst instruments exist for assessing health functioning, qualitative studies are beginning to illuminate which indicators should be used to assess health agency.
Short-fall sufficiency, a current pillar of the health capability paradigm, is considered as a potentially useful decision-rule when allocating health and social care resources. Setting a short-fall threshold will represent a value judgement and this should be informed through public deliberation and debate. The implications of adopting short-fall sufficiency also need to be explored and alternatives considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-616
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Health & Social Care
  • Capability approach
  • Short-fall Sufficiency
  • Resource allocation
  • health reform
  • Extra-welfarism
  • Health Capability Paradigm


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring different interpretations of the capability approach in a health care context: where next?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this