Health promotion strategies: A holistic approach in healthcare practice

Health is defined by the World Health Organization as ‘a state of complete physical and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.

To be completely healthy in terms of physical, mental and social well-being, a person or a group needs to be able to recognise and achieve their aspirations, meet their needs and adapt to changing environments.

“The part can never be well unless the whole is well.”

– Plato

Just as every unit, whether small or big, works together in a system to stay balanced, the same is true for your health. Instead of only focusing on diseases and relying too much on medicines, holistic healthcare looks for different ways to promote health. Our relationships, culture and the environment around us all have a huge impact on our health. It's important to create a medical system that helps people be well.

Keep reading to understand why a holistic approach to health is important.

What is health promotion?


Health promotion is one of the major interventions employed in healthcare delivery, especially in primary care. It helps individuals, families and society to adopt or change their lifestyles to be healthier. This means making good choices that improve health. Each person and community have factors that can either help or harm their health. Health promotion enables everyone to understand and control these factors, so they can live healthier lives.

According to the Ottawa Charter, health promotion is ‘the process that enables people to increase control over their health and improve their overall health’.

Health is seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. It's a positive concept that includes social and personal resources along with physical capacities. So, health promotion isn't just the responsibility of the health sector; it's beyond living a healthy lifestyle – it's about well-being.

Prerequisites for health

The fundamental conditions and resources required for health are:

  • Peace
  • Shelter
  • Education
  • Food
  • Income
  • A stable eco-system
  • Sustainable resources
  • Sustainable resources
  • Social justice
  • Equity

Improvement in health depends on a strong foundation in the above requirements.

Ottawa charter for health promotion

This was introduced at the first international conference on health promotion, which took place on November 21, 1986, in Ottawa. Its goal was to achieve health for all by the year 2000 and beyond.

This conference took place because of growing expectations for improved public health movement across the globe. The discussions mainly focused on the needs of developed countries but also considered similar concerns in other parts of the world.

3 basic strategies for health promotion

When developing strategies for health promotion, it's important to think of critical factors such as holism and ecology. It’s also crucial to remember that in every step of planning, implementing and assessing health promotion activities, both men and women should be treated as equals. Here are basic strategies for health promotion:


1. Health communication

Conversations about health involve verbal and written techniques to convince and empower people, groups and society to make healthy choices. Effective health communication often uses the tools of social marketing through the following means:

  • Using proven methods to create materials and products and finding ways to share them with people.
  • Understanding the traditional ideas, language and priorities of different cultures and places.
  • Thinking about how well people can understand health information, their access to the internet, what they see in the media and how familiar they are with different cultures.
  • Making things like brochures, billboards, newspaper articles, TV shows, radio ads, public announcements, newsletters, pamphlets, videos, digital tools and other things to share health information.

Using different ways to communicate helps spread health messages to individuals, communities and institutions at both local and national levels. Radio, television, newspapers, flyers, brochures, the internet, social media and more can all be used to share health messages. Health communication can be used to alert people about health risks, encourage healthy behaviours, influence social norms, increase availability of help and services and empower people to take charge of their health.

2. Health education

Health education is a social science approach that uses physical, medical and other sciences to promote health and prevent sickness. It can be taught by different means like lectures, courses, workshops, seminars, webinars and more. Here are some common features of health education strategy:

  • Involving the target audience.
  • Assessing what a community needs by looking at its abilities, resources, priorities and wishes.
  • Planning activities that help people learn more and build their skills.
  • Using lessons and materials that are easy for people to access.
  • Sharing information through different channels like videos, websites and software.
  • Training staff to make sure they adhere to the programme.

3. Policy improvement

Policies are a way to promote and support health and prevent diseases. These are set out by organisations and stakeholders and implemented through legislative advocacy, economic measures, taxation and regulations. Here are some examples of health policies:

  • Regulating where smoking is allowed.
  • Incentivising food sellers to offer healthy choices to people.
  • Taxing unhealthy foods.
  • Making relevant staff use safety equipment at work.

4. Systems change

Systems change means an essential shift in the way issues are solved. In a business, it affects organisational intent and how it functions, as well as addressing organisational beliefs, culture, protocols, relationships and objectives.

  • Examples of systems change in health promotion:
  • Developing plans to use new strategies to help people stay healthy.
  • Adapting or replicating health promotion models that have been tested and proven to work.
  • Using innovative technology.
  • Creating programmes for education, training, or certification that align with rules and policies.

5. Environmental change

Environment techniques to promote health involve social, environmental and fiscal aspects. Here are some examples:

  • Increasing the number of parks, paths and trails in a community.
  • Putting up signs that encourage people to walk or bike.
  • Ensuring there is plenty of fresh and healthy food in schools, restaurants and cafeterias.

Why is a healthy society important?

Have you ever thought about how your neighbours, your gym, or even your phone can affect your health in a big way? The people around you and the society you live in can influence many aspects of your life. Keep reading to find out why it's good to live in a healthy society.

Importance of living in a healthy society

Better physical health

  • Access to medical care
  • Wellness amenities
  • Healthy food options

Better mental health

  • Nurturing mental well-being
  • Feeling included in the community
  • Positive impact on self and purpose

Stronger community support

  • Positive impact on mental and physical health
  • Support in conditions like anxiety, depression, ADHD, substance abuse, etc.
  • Importance of a strong community for sustained health

More holistic educational opportunities

  • Access to strong educational institutions
  • Enhanced well-being through educational resources

1. Better physical health:

Living in a community where you can easily get medical care, use wellness facilities and find healthy food is good for your physical health.

2. Better mental health:

Studies show that mental health is just as important as physical health. Taking care of your mind, especially during tough times, can really make a difference in your daily life. Feeling included in a community can also affect how you see yourself and your purpose. This can be true whether you have a fitness buddy, are part of an organisation, or spend time with your family.

3. Stronger community support:

The people you interact with can strongly impact both your mental and physical health. Many studies connect various health conditions, like anxiety, depression, ADHD, substance abuse, aggressive behaviour, asthma, heart disease and obesity, to environmental factors. To keep healthy, it's important to have a supportive community you can rely on.

4. More holistic educational opportunities:

The education you can get depends a lot on the community you're in, as schools are often determined by district boundaries. Living in a society with good schools and resources adds to your well-being.

Public health challenges in the UK

Good health relies on more than just healthcare; it involves factors such as income, employment, housing and the availability of public services. Unfortunately, many of these elements crucial for health have deteriorated due to a decade of staffing and budgeting shortfalls and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially affecting those in the most deprived areas.

1. Stalling life expectancy and widening health inequalities

  • The UK's slowdown in life expectancy is more significant compared to similar countries.
  • In 2000, the UK ranked 21st out of 38 countries for female life expectancy, dropping to 26th by 2019.
  • Healthy life expectancy, the years lived in good health, has stayed the same.
  • If pre-COVID-19 trends continue, it could take almost two centuries to meet the government's target of improving healthy life expectancy by five years for men.

2. Substantial and growing unmet need for NHS and social care services

  • Anticipated increase in health needs while NHS and social care struggle to provide necessary care and support.
  • COVID-19 caused widespread service disruption, exacerbating existing challenges.
  • Access to care had been deteriorating for a decade before the pandemic.
  • In July 2023, the routine hospital waiting list in England reached 7.68 million, the highest on record.
  • Nearly 390,000 people waited over a year for hospital treatment.
  • Substantial growth in NHS waiting lists from 2.32 million in January 2010 to 4.57 million in January 2020 in the decade before the pandemic.

3. A decade of underinvestment

  • A decade of underfunding constrained health and care services.
  • Total government spending on health in England grew by only 2% annually in real terms.
  • The growth rate is significantly below the long-range average of 3.8%.

4. Persistent staff shortages

  • Widespread staff shortages in NHS and social care.
  • NHS had fewer doctors and nurses per person compared to similar countries before the pandemic.
  • Uneven growth, with existing gaps in staffing.
  • Current NHS trust staff vacancies in England: around 125,000.
  • Estimated vacancy rate: approximately 9%.
  • A shortfall of around 4,200 General Practitioners (GPs) in the NHS.

Study healthcare courses with Global Banking School (GBS)


GBS is one of the leading institutions in the UK, known for its industry-specific courses in fields such as healthcare, business, finance and more. With a significant presence in major UK cities, the institution is dedicated to its mission of “changing lives through education”.

Healthcare courses by GBS

BSc (Hons) Health, Wellbeing and Social Care with Foundation Year

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  • Ensures preparation for a new career with practical experience, industry scope and a strong foundation in health and social care.

BSc (Hons) Health, Wellbeing and Social Care (Level 6 Direct Entry)

  • Offers an intensive pathway to a full BSc (Hons) qualification in just a year.
  • Develops a well-rounded skillset and specialised understanding of key healthcare areas and adds significant value to your resumé.

HND in Healthcare Practice for England (Healthcare Management)

  • Provides a solid understanding of the healthcare environment in England through work-based experience and practical study.
  • Includes work experience in a health and social care setting, offering practical skills and knowledge for a rewarding career.

Frequently asked questions about health promotion strategies

Health promotion involves efforts to enhance and improve overall well-being by encouraging positive behaviours, preventing illness and fostering a healthy lifestyle through education, awareness and supportive environments.

Health promotion strategies encompass various approaches aimed at encouraging and enabling individuals and communities to adopt healthier behaviours, make informed choices and create environments that support well-being. These strategies may include education, awareness campaigns, policy changes, community engagement and fostering supportive conditions for healthy living.

These are the 3 basic strategies for health promotion:

  • Health communication
  • Health education
  • Policy, systems and environmental change (PSEs)

An HND in Healthcare Practice for England (Healthcare Management) offers a comprehensive insight into the healthcare landscape in England by blending hands-on experience with theoretical studies. Engaging in practical training within a health and social care setting equips you with the necessary skills and knowledge to embark on a fulfilling career in this sector.

GBS offers some of the best healthcare courses in the UK such as:

  • BSc (Hons) Health and Social Care with Foundation Year in Health and Care
  • BSc (Hons) Health, Wellbeing and Social Care with Foundation Year
  • BSc (Hons) Health, Wellbeing and Social Care (Level 6 Direct Entry)
  • HND in Healthcare Practice for England (Healthcare Management)

Want to know more about the courses? Contact our student support team.

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