About Health Promotion

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health promotion as "the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.” To do so, it is key to understand people’s behaviour, the environment they live in, and the interaction between those. These insights are crucial in the systematic development, implementation and evaluation of interventions to improve health. These interventions, and our efforts, can support people, create a supportive environment for people, or both.

  • The focus on people implies that we embrace participatory approaches to work together with a wide variety of priority populations (e.g., toddlers. elderly, people with a lower socioeconomic position) in various settings (e.g., school, home, community, care). We also closely work together with intermediaries, such as professionals that implement interventions in such settings (e.g., teachers, nurses). Their expertise and experiences are crucial for our success.
  • The focus on (the interaction between) behaviour and environment implies that an ecological perspective is our point of departure. Determinants of health and health behaviour at different levels are considered. To successfully intervene in a specific setting and thereby create a meaningful impact, it requires taking into account all aspects of that setting including individuals and (determinants of) their health behaviour; the physical, social, and economic environments they live in; the policies; and even the surroundings of that particular setting. The continuous changes of and interactions between all these aspects are part of the complexity that we (need to) embrace.
  • The focus on systematic development, implementation and evaluation of interventions allows us work on a broad variety of topics and behaviours (e.g., overweight, addictive behaviours, sexual health, vaccination, health disparities). For all these topics and behaviours, we develop new and apply existing theory and evidence, using different types of methodology. This mix between fundamental and applied research enables us to foster evidence-based practice and contribute to practice-based evidence.