Christa Altenstetter

Title: Professor Emerita
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center
Degrees/Diplomas: Ph.D. Heidelberg University
Research Interests: comparative public policy, health policy, policy-making in the European Union

Christa Altenstetter, PhD, an expert in comparative public policy, health policy, and policy-making in the European Union (EU), focuses on understanding health care reform from a comparative perspective, the impact of EU-level developments on member states’ health policies, and international and cross-national regulation in health care. She holds a PhD from Heidelberg University, was a postdoctoral fellow at the John F. Kennedy School at Harvard University, directed a research project at the School of Public Health at Yale University, and frequently worked as a consultant to health authorities abroad and the World Health Organization (WHO).Dr. Altenstetter is the author of Medical Devices: European Union Policymaking and the Implementation of Patient Health and Safety in France (2008) and the forthcoming Medical Technology in Japan: The Politics of Regulation (2014). She also edited or co-edited the following volumes:Innovation in Health Policy and Service Delivery(1981), Comparative Health Policy and the New Right: From Rhetoric to Reality (1991), Health Policy Reform, National Variations and Globalization (1997), and Health Policy (1998).

An active member of the International Political Science Association (IPSA), Dr. Altenstetter founded and directed the IPSA research committee on comparative health policy. Dr. Altenstetter is currently a Professor of Political Science with a dual appointment at the CUNY Graduate Center and Queens College. She serves as Deputy Executive Officer of the Political Science department at the CUNY Graduate Center and the Interim Director of the European Union Studies Center at the Graduate Center.


Christa Altenstetter, Medical Devices: European Union Policymaking and the Implementation of Health and Patient Safety in France (New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2007)

Medical devices are the bread and butter from which health care and clinical research are derived. Such devices are used for patient care, genetic testing, clinical trials, and experimental clinical investigations. Without medical devices, there is no clinical research or patient care. Without life-adjusting devices, there are no medical procedures or surgery. Without life-saving and life-maintaining devices, there is no improvement in well-being and quality of life. Without innovative medical devices and experimentation, there can be no medical progress or patient safety. Medical devices and medical technology are used to create or support many different products and medical-surgical procedures.

This volume on the regulation of medical devices in the European Union, with a focus on France, tackles a topic of interdisciplinary interest and significance for policymakers in countries around the globe. The EU regulatory regime is one of three global regional regimes, and medical products manufactured in EU countries are sold worldwide. As countries confront an aging population on a global scale, with associated increases in chronic diseases, physical handicaps, and multi-morbidity, there will inevitably be an increase in the demand for health services and, concomitantly, the use of medical devices in medical and surgical procedures. This will be the case regardless of whether services are delivered in hospitals, doctors’ offices, or at home. The associated risks of a particular device will be the same whatever the country of origin for the device, or where the need occurs. Revolutionary medical advances increase diagnostic capabilities, but they increase the potential of harm and risks to patients.

Medical technologies and devices are used ethically most of the time; yet they have the potential for unethical use when scientific medicine is elevated over human life and death. Assumptions that are taken for granted can be dangerous to a patient’s health. That is why our understanding of appropriate and effective regulation of medical devices is significant to all people on all continents.

Christa Altenstetter and James Bjorkman eds., Health Policy (Northampton: Edward Elgar Publishing, 1998).

This book gathers together 28 articles previously published in medical and social science journals, to provide an overview of the field of American health policy. Each section includes articles culled from a span of several decades with historical timelines to show contemporary relevance and change over time. The six sections cover the foundations of health policy, socio-economic and political factors, American and comparative national experiences, opportunities and constraints on policy learning, and methodological issues of policy analysis, Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Christa Altenstetter and James Bjorkman eds., Health Policy Reform, National Variations and Globalization (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1997).

Health policy reforms are often justified and sometimes generated by ideas – or misperceptions of ideas – about how the health-care system works in other countries. Many countries have attempted to restructure their health-care systems. Brazil, Germany, Israel and The Netherlands have introduced large-scale reforms, whereas France, Britain and Canada have targeted specific aspects. The issue remains on the agenda around the globe, including Eastern Europe and North America – where reforms are largely market-driven. This volume provides new information about these countries and regions in terms of both the financing and delivery of services. It compares selected systems in order to extract lessons or, more appropriately, cautions and caveats about easily voiced proposals for change versus the harsh realities of politics and the inertial constraints of bureaucratic organization. National variations in policy reforms are discussed in terms of managed care, health insurance, institutional ideas, and involvement of foreign experts.

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