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Health Educ Q. 1994 Fall;21(3):295-312.

New health promotion movement: a critical examination.

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Department of Behavioral Science, University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine, Ontario, Canada.


In the last decade, a revolution has been occurring in the field of health promotion. Guided to a large extent by position papers disseminated by the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe Health Promotion Office, and furthered by the Ottawa Charter, the Epp Report in Canada, the Healthy Cities project, as well as by other efforts, this new health promotion movement has introduced new ideas, new language, and new concepts about what constitutes health and how health promotion efforts should be configured to achieve health. Punctuated by the terms like empowerment and community participation, this movement has generated a whole new discourse about the theory and practice of health promotion. This paper explores the multiple meanings that surround these terms, and the implications for practice, by addressing questions like: What does health mean in this new context? What is empowerment? What does participation look like? Has the tyranny of the professional been replaced by the tyranny of the community? Has anything changed about the practice of health promotion other than the language? Finally, it is argued that an acknowledgment of the multidimensionality of these concepts may facilitate their translation from rhetoric into health promotion practice.

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