If we want more evidence-based practice, we need more practice-based evidence.*
Community Health Promotion Ideas That Work, Second
Edition is ...
An Overview of the Second Edition
What is a healthy squirrel? Not a picture of a squirrel, not . . .the sleeping squirrel, not even the aggregate of his normal blood pressure, serum calcium, total body zinc, normal digestion, fertility, and the like. Rather, the healthy squirrel is a busy-tailed fellow who looks and acts like a squirrel; who leaps though trees with great daring; who gathers, buries, and covers but later uncovers and recovers his acorns; who perches out on a limb. . . who chatters and plays and courts with mates, and rears his young in large improbable-looking homes at the tops of trees.
A Message from the Authors
For many people, the word health seems to be synonymous with the words health care or diseases, which in turn call to mind terms like medicine, hospital, doctor, and nurse. In creating the metaphor above, Leon Kass took a different tack and invited us to envision health in the context of living Ė in short, seeing what health looks like!
In preparing this new edition, as we did the first, we took Kassí advice and asked ourselves: what does community health promotion look like? This question prompted two others: (1) what do effective health promotion practitioners do? and (2) what ideas or thought processes seem to guide the decisions they make? Out of this process emerged a variety of actions and ideas, some of which were persistent. We call the persistent ones "ideas that work."
Great progress continues to be made in the science, theory, and application of health education and health promotion. Thanks to the combined good work of dedicated practitioners and researchers the world over; we now have a much more coherent picture of the theories, strategies, and tactics that lead to health improvement in communities.
In our collective travels over the years, we have had the great pleasure of observing, and often working with, health educators and public health advocates from Boston, Massachusetts to Lagos, Nigeria; from Bethel, Alaska to Abbeyville, South Carolina; from Perth, Australia to Tianjin, China. It has been inspiring to see these health workers, often operating with meager resources, use their ingenuity to create the conditions that will put people in a better position to improve their health and quality of life.
In spite of the good work however, a gap remains: the gap between what the evidence tell us what works, and what is actually being applied in the name of health education and health promotion. The motivation behind this little book was our desire to contribute to the narrowing of that gap.
For those currently studying in preparation to apply health promotion principles and strategies in their work, and for those front-line practitioners in the field, we have tried to create a user-friendly book -- one that tries to unpack the knowledge and experience gained by other researchers and practitioners. Throughout the book, we use the term "health promotion practitioner" to refer to both.
How the Book is Organized
Community Health Promotion Ideas that Work is organized into seven chapters, each of which begins with a case story. Although fictional, the stories are based upon real experiences and include nuances of the human condition that are too often excluded from treatments of public health practice. The case stories offer readers a realistic frame of reference in which to consider the critical concepts, principles and theories that guide effective health promotion practice.
Chapter 1: Finding True North
This chapter focuses on the core purposes of public health. The case story that launches this chapter poses the rhetorical question: "Why Do We Do What We Do?" It asks practitioners to examine the rationale used to determine how they spend their time and resources. The story chronicles the experiences of a young and enthusiastic health worker who plans and implements a health promotion activity that, on the surface, looks fine. When her efforts are juxtaposed with the core principles of public health and the realities of limited resources, we are all prompted to re-examine the assumptions we use, or donít use, when determining health issues we address in our work.
Chapter 2: Using Different Sources of Data
The case story, "Letís Take a Comprehensive Approach," describes how a health promotion practitioner contributes to the process of crafting the coming yearsí budget recommendation for the Health Promotion Branch of a state health department. Ultimately the program must defend its decision before the legislative budget committee. The case story analysis and chapter content combine to highlight: (1) the value of using a wide range of data and information to determine priorities, (2) methods practitioners can employ to gather that information, and (3) how one might make the case of moving from categorical health initiatives to those that take a more comprehensive and robust approach.
Chapter 3: Promoting Participation for Health
"The Court of Public Opinion" describes how a temporarily disheartened local health officer is buoyed by a friend who is a local journalist. The story and analysis illustrate the importance of one of the core principles of health promotion: community involvement and participation. This chapter brings to light the political realities that accompany health promotion and disease prevention and offers practical strategies designed to help practitioners in their efforts to respectfully engage those disparate populations who are so often left out of the process. Specific methods for communicating with public and political leaders are also described.
Chapter 4: Whatís the Plan? Is it Working?
"What Causes the Causes" shows how a determined community coalition, coached by a health promotion professor, tackled underage drinking and drug use in its community. By systematically identifying the factors contributing to this serious and complex problem, the coalition uncovers those most amenable to change. In the process, they also build a solid and realistic foundation for evaluation. Practical examples for implementing the processes of planning and evaluation are provided.
Chapter 5: Theory Applied
Experience has taught us that the most effective health promotion programs are those that employ multiple methods, matched to the specific needs and unique characteristics of a the target population. "The Old Horse" case story takes us to China and illustrates how selected theories, in combination with the understanding of cultural nuances, were applied to create an effect tobacco prevention and control program. This chapter reviews seven theories, four that relate to the dynamics of behavior change, and three that focus on selected factors critical to social and community change. A working knowledge of these core theories belong in the repertoire of every health promotion practitioner.
Chapter 6: Tactics
The case story, "Checkmate," uses the analogy of chess to make the distinction between the terms strategies and tactics. The strategic part of health promotion is akin to the process of program planning. The tactical part of health promotion emerges from the plan and is manifest by the selection and implementation of methods, in concert with one another, aimed at achieving the objective and goal of the program. This chapter provides practical, "how to" key tactics used by practitioners in the field including: health communication, media advocacy and policy tactics, and tailored communication.
Chapter 7: Steering vs. Rowing
In "Jameson," we return full circle to the setting and characters introduced in the first case story. The health officer seeks outside consultation to learn how his health department could spend less time "reacting," and more time "initiating." Managerial, organizational, and budgetary tenets, so critical to effective health promotion programs, often remain in the background of our thinking. In this chapter, those tenets are brought out of the shadows.
A Word About Competency
The content of Health Promotion Ideas That Work provides practical examples that complement the content and principles covered in the seven "areas of responsibilities" for the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). The seven areas of responsibilities, and the chapters that address them, are:
Assess individual and community needs for health education. (Chapters 1&4)
Plan effective health education programs (Chapters 2, 3, &4)
Implement health education programs (Chapters 2-6)
Evaluate the effectiveness of health education programs (Chapter 4)
Coordinate the provision of health education (Chapters 3&7)
Act as resource person in health education (Chapters 4&7)
Communicate heath education needs, concerns, and resources (Chapter 3)
Some Food for Thought
To paraphrase the English statesman, Lord Acton, ". . . ignorance and the love of ease are the natural enemies of progress. . ." Our intention has not been to create a "cookbook" that makes the process of health promotion "easy." While health promotion is certainly rewarding, it is not easy! Our goal has been to bring into sharper focus the central tasks of health promotion while not losing sight of the reason for doing them: health improvement. If readers make those connections, and do so with some ease, so much the better.