Health Promotion: Disciplines, Diversity, and Development

Health Promotion: Disciplines, Diversity, and Development

Health Promotion: Disciplines, Diversity, and Development

Health Promotion: Disciplines, Diversity, and Development

Synopsis

This comprehensive introducton to the interdisciplinary nature of the field of health promotion has been completely updated to reflect national and international developments.

Excerpt

I've always had great difficulty in explaining to my mother what I do for a living. The term health promotion has little currency in everyday language, and my mother's eyes quickly glaze over as I try to explain the subtle ideology that distinguishes health promotion from health education and preventive medicine, terms that are marginally more self-evident. As I struggle on I find I revert to simple slogans - helping people to improve their health, making healthy choices easy choices, and so on - generally to no avail. As a last resort, I try the Ottawa Charter definition - a process of enabling people to exert control over, and to improve their health. Personally, I still find this definition very helpful. It highlights the facts that health promotion is a process (i.e. it involves doing something!) that is enabling and empowering (i.e. done for and with people, not on or to people), and that it is directed towards changing health status (it is outcome focused). However, the conversation with my mother generally ends around this stage.

The subtlety and complexity inherent in the Ottawa Charter definition are both a strength and weakness of contemporary health promotion, as is superbly illustrated in this book. Although I could not recommend it to my mother, it is an excellent resource for students with an interest in strategies to improve the health of whole populations. It explores the complexities of this disarmingly simple definition, digging deep beneath the surface to examine the tangled roots of contemporary health promotion. The editors dare to suggest that from these tangled roots a distinctive discipline is emerging, with a unique contribution to make to the theory and practice of public health.

This is audacious behaviour/thinking from a field of study that is still only 20 years young. However, the editors have chosen their authors exceptionally well. The individual chapters in the book offer insightful, free-standing analyses of the diverse range of perspectives and disciplinary roots of health promotion. By bringing these perspectives together, the book as a whole offers a compelling case for the emergence of a genuinely different perspective on public health practice, and a strong case for an emerging discipline. At the heart of the debate and discussions emerging from these chapters is the differentiation between method and outcome. On the one hand, health

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