Health promotion

Vickie Knight: Sydney Sexual Health Centre and The Kirby Institute UNSW
Gemma Hartmann: Eurobodalla Shire Sexual Health Service, NSW
Elizabeth Crock: Bolton Clarke HIV Program, Melbourne

What is health promotion?

Health promotion is a core element of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) nursing, and is identified as a key domain in the Australian Sexual Health and HIV Nursing Association’s Competency Standards.[1]

Health promotion is defined as ‘the process of enabling people to increase control over and to improve their health.[2]  In 1986, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion identified three basic strategies for effective health promotion:

Health promotion not only includes actions directed toward strengthening the skills of individuals but embraces actions directed toward changing social, political, environmental and economic conditions to improve the health of communities.[3]

The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion’s strategies for health promotion practice remain relevant for nurses almost 30 years after its inception.[4]

These three strategies are further supported by five priority areas for action:

  1. Build healthy public policy
  2. Create supportive environments for health
  3. Strengthen community action for health
  4. Develop personal skills
  5. Re-orient health services.