Public health approaches

Public health approaches2017-04-03T21:42:54+10:00

Public health approaches seek to promote health based on the knowledge that health has a range of determinants, but particularly target the social determinants of health as set out by the World Health Organisation and the Ottawa Charter. Two such examples of public health approaches to health promotion are: health-promoting schools and workplaces.

Health-promoting schools

Health promoting schools are one example of the public health approaches to health promotion because it seeks to change some of the social determinants of health in order to empower the individual to take control of their health. Health promoting schools promote health: through their curriculum, by implementing WHS procedures, and utilises its community to promote an healthy environment.

Many schools seek to promote health in a holistic manner. They promote social health by creating a community where students, staff and parents feel they belong. They include welfare programs, extra-curricular activity groups, as well as implementing discipline policies that seek to maintain a safe environment for everyone (e.g. no bullying, respectful relationships, child safety training etc). School can also be the location for other community activities such as hiring out their sports facilities or hosting religious groups.

Schools also promote health through education programs, such as K-10 mandatory PDHPE and sports activities. They may engage in Duke of Edinburgh or run lunch time sports competitions. All of which promote health for the students.

Health promoting school are also aware of WHS procedures that ensure the safety of everyone on their grounds. This can be as simple as risk assessments for sporting activities, but it includes ‘no hat, no play’ rules, ergonomic chairs and work stations for students and teachers. It also applies to maintaining a safe environment, removing hazards and providing appropriate supervision of students during breaks.

Furthermore the Australian Health Promoting Schools Association aims to:

  • establish a broad view of health consistent with the Ottawa Charter
  • encourage collaboration between professional bodies, government groups, students and parents
  • advocate and strengthen school based physical activity participation
  • sustain health curriculum and more.

Healthy Promoting Schools Framework

Healthy Promoting Schools Framework

Health-promoting workplaces

Health -promoting workplaces seeks to promote health beyond WHS. This public health approach to health promotion aims to assist workplaces in order to improve: overweight and obesity levels, physical activity levels, eating activities, travel, and reduce smoking and alcohol consumption.

The NSW Government has established the Get Healthy at Work public health promotion initiative in order achieve these goals. It does this in two ways:

  • by addressing individual behavioural and workplace factors contributing to poor health, and
  • supporting people to achieve their personal health goals.

This public health approach provides tools and resources to help workplaces address their priority health issues and provides free health checks. Furthermore, the Healthy Workers Portal provides industry specific health information, resources for employers and employees to improve their health and much more.

A healthy workplace: “supports and encourages healthy behaviours in its employees, making healthy choices the easy choices”, and is “where employers and employees work together to support and promote good health.”[2]

Such public health approaches have a more holistic approach to health promotion, by seeking to change the context in which students and employers and employees function on a day-to-day basis.