Healthy World, Healthy Nation, Healthy You

Health Promotion and Prevention

Health Promotion is the provision of information and/or education to individuals, families, and communities that encourage family unity, community commitment, and traditional spirituality, that make positive contributions to their health status. Health Promotion is also the promotion of healthy ideas and concepts to motivate individuals to adopt healthy behaviors. Health Promotion is an attitude that people can learn to adopt in order to develop health habits that will provide good health over the course of a lifetime.

According to the World Health Organization, Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.

Source: retrieved from:

Models of health promotion

While the definition of health promotion has been universally adopted, there have been a number of different approaches to promoting health. Over the past 30 years, three key models of health have influenced health promotion.

The biomedical model of health (pre-1970s):
• focuses on risk behaviours and healthy lifestyles
• emphasises health education – changing knowledge, attitudes and skills
• focuses on individual responsibility
• treats people in isolation of their environments

The social model of health (from 1970s onwards):
• addresses the broader determinants of health
• involves inter-sectoral collaboration
• acts to reduce social inequities
• empowers individuals and communities
• acts to enable access to health care

The ecological model of health (from late 1970s onwards):
• acknowledges the reciprocal relationship between health-related behaviours and the environments in which people live, work and play (behaviour does not occur in a vacuum)
• considers the environment is made up of different subsystems – micro, meso, exo and macro
• emphasises the relationships and dependencies between these subsystems
• is comprehensive and multi-faceted, using a shared framework for change at individual and environmental levels

Source: Retrieved from VicHealth:

shutterstock_69286573Prevention and preventive care consists of measures taken to prevent diseases, (or injuries) rather than curing them or treating their symptoms.

Source: Preventive Medicine, US National Library of Medicine Medical Subject Heading (MeSH)


Preventive medicine strategies are typically described as taking place at the primary, secondary, tertiary and prevention levels

Simple examples of preventive medicine include hand washing, breastfeeding, immunizations and exercise promotion. Preventive care may include examinations and screening tests tailored to an individual’s age, health, and family history. For example, a person with a family history of certain cancers or other diseases would begin screening at an earlier age and/or more frequently than those with no such family history.

Level Definition
Primary prevention Methods to avoid occurrence of disease.[6] Most population-based health promotion efforts are of this type.
Secondary prevention Methods to diagnose and treat existent disease in early stages before it causes significant morbidity.[7]
Tertiary prevention Methods to reduce negative impact of existent disease by restoring function and reducing disease-related complications.[8]
Quaternary prevention Methods to mitigate or avoid results of unnecessary or excessive interventions in the health system.[9]

Source: Retrieved from:

Decreasing Health Risks through Healthy Living


Life style and daily health habits determine much of how we live our lives. Health promotion and illness prevention is largely in our own hands. If we are mindful and choose to take the paths that lead to a balanced life and one that does not abuse our mind, body or spirit, we can avoid many of the illnesses that are clearly related to abuse of food, alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Balancing good nutrition with daily exercise is also part of the equation of creating a life that builds resilience and one that allows our body to function in balance with the world.

However, these goals can often be among the most challenging to achieve as they require a good foundation of positive health behaviors and daily reinforcement in order to make them life long habits.

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