Education and training in health promotion: theory and methods

Kelleher, Cecily (1996) Education and training in health promotion: theory and methods. Health Promotion International, 11 (1). pp. 47-53.


Health promotion is evolving into a discrete concept with a definition commonly understood by all who use the term. This is to be distinguished from the kind of umbrella approach used by all manner of groups and disciplines to define their intentions or activities in this general area. Further, such a process of clarification is critical to progress and is dependent on having a theoretical basis through which research can be undertaken. In turn, the education of those engaged in health promotion can be expected to shape their skill range and perspective. We find, therefore, a kind of interdependent and reciprocal situation is developing.; ; At the present time, for chronological reasons as much as anything else, practitioners of health promotion come from a variety of academic and training backgrounds. The process of enabling individuals to take control of their own health involves a wide spectrum of determining factors and hence expertise is very varied. Two key elements, for this writer at least, are these: the approach is positive and holistic rather than reductionist, and context is recognised as a major factor in health choices.; ; This paper seeks to discuss the priorities for education against this background. It uses as resource the proceedings of a workshop on education and training held as part of a World Health Organization supported workshop held in Copenhagen in 1992. We find that most graduate level training is in dedicated Master level programmes that have considerable overlap with those in public health. Discussion will centre on whether we have sufficiently evolved our thinking to discriminate skill areas unique to health promotion that should be taught. The intuitive basis on which courses have developed to date will be examined. Finally, the paper asks whether or not the standardisation that may follow is in any way antithetical to the embracing principle of health promotion itself.

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