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Principles of Health Promotion

World Health Organisation Principles of Health Promotion


Empowerment - a way of working to enable people to gain greater control over decisions and actions affecting their health.

Participative - where people take an active part in decision making.

Holistic - taking account of the separate influences on health and the interaction of these dimensions.

Equitable - ensuring fairness of outcomes for service users.

Intersectoral - working in partnership with other relevant agencies/organisations.

Sustainable - ensuring that the outcomes of health promotion activities are sustainable in the long term.

Multi Strategy - working on a number of strategy areas such as programmes, policy.



The World Health Organisation took a leading role in action for health promotion in the 1980's with, the Ottawa Charter been published in 1986.  It suggested that health promotion happens at five key levels. 


Developing Personal Skills

Creating Supportive Environments

Strengthening Community Action

Developing Public Policy

Re- orienting the Health Services. 


Applying the Ottawa Charter in a Youth Work Context - Promoting Health with Young People

Developing Personal Skills

Youth organisations, through the broad range of programmes and activites delivered to young people, including health education and health information, positivelly influence the development of personal skills, for example self esteem, self efficacy, communication, negotation, life skills and motivation.  The development of these skills has a positive impact on health. 


Creating Supportive Environments

Through creating safe and secure physical and social environments, youth organisations provide young people and staff with opportunities to discuss and explore health issues and practice health-enhancing behaviours, thus supporting health education and 'making the healthier choice the easier choice'; for example providing healthy food options in the tuck shop; providing healthy snacks for after schools clubs; providing a smoke free environment, implementing an anti-bullying policy, providing an adolescent friendly health service.


Strengthen Community Action

Through developing partnerships and alliances with other organisations and sectors in the community, youth organisations can build capacity and positively influence health within the wider community, which in turn, can continue to support the health of their target groups who live in the community, for example delivering parent programmes, working in partnership with healthy towns initatives. 


Delivering Health Public Policy

Through the development of health-related policy internally, youth organisations demonstrate evidence-based practice indicating the importance of having policy in place to support practice, for example sexual health policy; substance use policy.  Additionally, youth organisations have a key role to play in raising awareness and advocating for public policy development and change in order to support their health-related work and the health of their target groups, for example national alcohol policy.


Reorient the Health Services

Advocating for the development and provision of health services that can respond to the health needs of young people is a key role of youth organisations, for example youth organisations have a role in creating awareness and advocating for the provision of an adolescent friendly health service for young people.