Editors: Bente Wold, Oddrun Samdal

An Ecological Perspective on Health Promotion Systems, Settings and Social Processes

Special Offer (PDF + Printed Copy): US $78
Printed Copy: US $78
ISBN: 978-1-60805-564-7 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-60805-341-4 (Online)
Year of Publication: 2012
DOI: 10.2174/97816080534141120101


This e-book adds a new dimension to currently available text in health promotion by applying examples from evaluation studies to explore basic health promotion principles. It thus goes beyond single case study descriptions. The volume intricately blends an ecological approach with social science.

A multiple settings approach is extensively covered by analyzing participants’ perceptions of the family, leisure and school settings. Chapters of this volume also present intervention data aiming at promoting participants’ perceptions and empowerment in the settings. Furthermore, the e-book covers several topic areas central to health promotion, such as life satisfaction, health behaviours (tobacco, physical activity) and health complaints and body image. Another central principle in health promotion, namely development of healthy public policy is covered including descriptions about how health promotion policies are influenced by national and international political developments. This historical perspective adds to the current knowledge of how to establish and develop policies as a basis for all health promotion actions.


As a participant in the symposium celebrating the first 20 years of research from the editors and many of the chapter authors of this book, and their colleagues associated with the University of Bergen’s Research Centre for Health Promotion at the Faculty of Psychology and its Department of Health Promotion and Development, I was humbled to consider the immensity of their productivity and contributions. I should not have been surprised, considering the number of their publications I had seen and used over those 20 years. But recognizing specific research products does not tell a larger story of the parts in relation to the whole; the findings of individual studies in relation to the systems in which they represent subsystems.

This book brings much of the prolific work of the Bergen collaborators to a fitting focus through the lens of an ecological perspective. It brings into sharp relief the contours of practice and the relationships of practice with action research and policy development opportunities. The lens is at least tri-focal, with data and reflection on the individual children affected; the relationships among children, parents, teachers, and others in the school settings; the further layering of school, family and community relationships; and ultimately the implications for national and global health promotion policy. Such layering is the necessity of ecological thinking and theorizing, but the perspectives reflected here bring more. They bring empirical data to bear on the ecological perspective and its implications for practice and policy. Inherent in these reflections is a critique of some health promotion traditions that tend to place the emphasis too exclusively on individual risk factor data, and lead too often to policies that blame the victims of ill health rather than reform the social determinants in systems and environments where their risk factors are predisposed, enabled and reinforced.

The action research lens on the data these editors and authors bring also adds a dimension of reality and generalizability that much academic research and theorizing fails to offer, and most controlled trials in the evidence-based medicine tradition cannot offer to an ecological perspective. The demands of many systematic reviews of the scientific literature in the health (and the education) fields tend to limit the qualified research to a limited range of highly controlled and randomized trials. Guidelines for professional and organizational practices derived from such systematic reviews of individual studies miss the mark of practitioner needs. What they recommend as “evidence-based practices” from such highly controlled experimental studies lack credibility, applicability, and actionability to most practitioners and policy makers because they do not reflect the reality of their practice circumstances. If we want more evidence-based practice, we need more practice-based evidence. This publication offers that, as well as its ecological and global perspectives on health promotion.

Lawrence W. Green,
San Francisco


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