- LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0044
- LAST REVIEWED: 15 June 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 23 February 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0044
Health education is defined as “any combination of learning experiences designed to facilitate voluntary actions conducive to health” (Green and Kreuter 2005). Although the history of health education dates back to the 19th century, it was not until the 1940s that the field began evolving as a distinct discipline. Over time, health education’s theory and practice base have broadened from focusing on one-to-one and mass media behavioral interventions to encompass responsibility for policies, systems, and environments that affect population health. In the early 21st century, the terms health education and health promotion (i.e., the latter including an ecological approach) are often used interchangeably in the United States, while internationally health promotion is used as an overarching concept that includes health education. Health education is considered a mature profession given that it has developed a discrete body of knowledge, defined competencies, a certification system for individuals, a code of ethics, a federal occupational classification, and recognized accreditation processes in higher education. Health education is generally aligned with the behavioral and social sciences as one of the core dimensions of public health study and practice. Additionally, the field draws from theories and models from education, health studies, communications, and other diverse areas. The unique combination of these knowledge areas forms the basis for health education competencies. Health educators employ a core set of competencies, regardless of the diverse practice settings in which they work (i.e., schools, universities, health departments, community-based organizations, health-care settings, worksites, and international organizations). This bibliography is organized around major areas of health education practice, such as assessing, planning, implementing, managing, and evaluating health education or health promotion programs, services, and interventions. It includes historical and philosophical foundations, and development of its professionalism and ethics. The discipline embraces both qualitative and quantitative methods, community-based participatory research, health communication and social marketing principles, and policy and media advocacy to accomplish program objectives. Health educators are stalwarts in the fight for social justice and believe that the health of a population should be a priority in any society.
Definition and Scope of Practice
The definition and scope of health education have evolved since the 1950s, particularly in relation to improved understanding of behavioral and socio-ecological influences on health. The early definition of health education in Griffiths 1972 primarily emphasized the provision of learning experiences to promote voluntary changes to individual health. Subsequent work in Robertson and Minkler 1994, Schwartz, et al. 1995, and Downie, et al. 1996 provides a broader context of health education in relation to policy, systems, and environmental changes inherent in the practice of health promotion and related philosophies. Taub, et al. 2009 provides a concise overview of how the terms health education and health promotion are used differently in the early 21st century in the United States versus internationally, due to historical, cultural, and political considerations. Gold and Miner 2002 and Modeste, et al. 2004 provide good sources of contemporary definitions for many other terms, which is especially important due to the eclectic base from which health education draws.
Downie, Robert, Carol Tannahill, and Andrew Tannahill. 1996. Health promotion: Models and values. 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
A comprehensive and systematic review of how to define health promotion and the range of underlying values held by those in practice. One of the few works that addresses the influence of values held by the profession, government entities, and communities on health promotion.
Gold, Robert S., and Kathleen R. Miner. 2002. 2000 Joint Committee on Health Education and Promotion Terminology. Journal of School Health 7.2: 3–7.
The Joint Committee convenes every decade to evaluate the current terminology in health education, which changes with the advancement of scholarship, technological developments, and professional practice. This citation is the seventh major health education terminology report issued during the past seventy years.
Griffiths, William. 1972. Health education definitions, problems, and philosophies. Health Education Monographs 31:12–14.
This health education pioneer defines health education as an “attempt to close the gap between what is known about optimum health practice and that which is actually practiced.” Later, as part of the views offered to President Richard M. Nixon’s First White House Conference on Health Education, Griffiths also asserted the health educator’s role in changing societal conditions that influence health.
Modeste, Naomi, Teri Tamayose, and Helen H. Marshak. 2004. Dictionary of public health promotion and education: Terms and concepts. 2d ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Brief dictionary of the most common and more esoteric terms used in health promotion and education. Expands on concepts beyond a rote definition, which is useful to both students and practitioners.
Robertson, A., and Meredith Minkler. 1994. New health promotion movement: A critical examination. Health Education Quarterly 21:295–312.
Explores the various meanings of health education to date and identifies the characteristics of a new health promotion movement and implications for practice and research.
Schwartz, Randy, Robert Goodman, and Alan Steckler. 1995. Policy advocacy interventions for health promotion and education: Advancing the state of practice. Health Education Quarterly 22.4: 421–426.
This theme issue outlines the role of policy advocacy in achieving health education and health promotion objectives. Includes seminal articles on environmental and policy change for tobacco, cardiovascular disease, physical activity, and nutrition.
Taub, Alyson, John P. Allegrante, Margaret P. Barry, and Keiko Sakagami. 2009. Perspectives on terminology and conceptual and professional issues in health education and health promotion credentialing. Health Education & Behavior 36.3: 439–450.
Explains how the terms health education and health promotion have been defined and used differently in the United States and other countries, and includes a succinct and useful table. Also addresses key international perspectives on professional competencies, standards, and accreditation.
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- Access to Health Care
- Action Research
- Active Living
- Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior in the United States
- Advocacy, Public Health
- Air Quality: Health Effects
- Air Quality: Indoor Health Effects
- Alcohol Availability and Violence
- Alternative Research Designs
- Ambient Air Quality Standards and Guidelines
- American Perspectives on Chronic Disease and Control
- Asthma in Children
- Attachment as a Health Determinant
- Behavior Change Theory in Health Education and Promotion
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance
- Bicycling and Cycling Safety
- Birth and Death Registration
- Birth Cohort Studies
- Board of Health
- Built Environment and Health, The
- Business and Corporate Practices
- Cancer Communication Strategies in North America
- Cancer Prevention
- Cancer Screening
- Capacity Building
- Capacity Building for NCDs in LMICs
- Capacity-Building for Applied Public Health in LMIC: A US ...
- Cardiovascular Health and Disease
- Child Maltreatment
- Children, Air Pollution and
- Children, Injury Risk-Taking Behaviors in
- Children, Obesity in
- Citizen Advisory Boards
- Climate Change and Human Health
- Climate Change: Institutional Response
- Clinical Preventive Medicine
- Community Air Pollution
- Community Development
- Community Gardens
- Community Health Assessment
- Community Partnerships and Coalitions
- Community-Based Participatory Research
- Complexity and Systems Theory
- Definition of Health
- Dental Public Health
- Design and Health
- Dietary Guidelines
- Ecological Approaches
- Enabling Factors
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Ethics of Public Health
- Evidence-Based Public Health Practice
- Family Planning Services and Birth Control
- Food Safety
- Food Security and Food Banks
- Food Systems
- Frail Elderly
- Functional Literacy
- Genomics, Public Health
- Geographic Information Systems
- Geography and Health
- Global Health
- Global Health Diplomacy
- Global Health Promotion
- Guide to Community Preventive Services, The
- Health Administration
- Health Communication
- Health Disparities
- Health Education
- Health Impact Assessment
- Health in All Policies
- Health Literacy
- Health Literacy and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Health Measurement Scales
- Health Planning
- Health Promoting Hospitals
- Health Promotion
- Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
- Healthy People Initiative
- Hepatitis C
- Human Rights, Health and
- Immigrant Populations
- Immunization and Pneumococcal Infection
- Indigenous Peoples, Public Health and
- Indigenous Populations of North America, Australasia, and ...
- Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
- Intersectoral Strategies in Low - Middle Income Countries ...
- Justice, Social
- Knowledge Translation and Exchange
- Knowledge Utilization and Exchange
- Law of Public Health in the United States
- Media Advocacy
- Mental Health
- Mental Health Promotion
- Migrant Health
- Motor Vehicle Injury Prevention
- Multi-Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis
- National Association of Local Boards of Health
- National Public Health Institutions
- Needs Assessment
- Obesity Prevention
- Occupational Cancers
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Ottawa Charter
- Parenting and Work
- Parenting Skills and Capacity
- Patient Decision Making
- Pesticide Exposure and Pesticide Health Effects
- Physical Activity and Exercise
- Physical Activity Promotion
- Population Aging
- Population Health Objectives and Targets
- Precautionary Principle
- Prenatal Health
- Program Evaluation in American Health Education
- Program Planning and Evaluation
- Public Health, History of
- Public Health Surveillance
- Public-Private Partnerships to Prevent and Manage Obesity ...
- Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies
- Randomized Controlled Trials
- Real World Evaluation Strategies
- Reducing Obesity-Related Health Disparities in Hispanic an...
- Rural Health in the United States
- Safety, Patient
- Sex Education in HIV/AIDS Prevention
- Skin Cancer Prevention
- Smoking Cessation
- Social Determinants of Health
- Social Epidemiology
- Social Marketing
- Systems in the United States, Public Health
- Systems Theory in Public Health
- Translation of Science to Practice and Policy
- Traumatic Stress and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Unintentional Injury Prevention
- Urban Health
- Violence Prevention
- Water Quality
- Water Quality and Water-Related Disease
- Weight Management in US Occupational Settings
- Worksite Health Promotion