In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Health Promotion Workforce Capacity

  • Introduction

Public Health Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
Margaret M. Barry, Barbara Battel-Kirk, Colette Dempsey
  • LAST REVIEWED: 30 June 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 30 June 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0107

This article was revised by Barbara Battel-Kirk, Colette Dempsey, and Margaret M. Barry on 28 March 2018. The revised version can be found here


A skilled workforce is critical to delivering on the core values, principles, political vision, and strategic objectives of health promotion as outlined in World Health Organization (WHO) directives, national policies, and international agreements. Workforce capacity development is, therefore, essential to the sustainability and future development of health promotion and is critical to the effective translation of policy and research into effective practice. The health promotion workforce is diverse in terms of qualifications, level of experience, disciplinary backgrounds, levels of training, and type of practices, and it encompasses a broad range of people and agencies who work to promote population health. In some cases, the job title “Health Promotion” may not be used; however, the defining features of this multidisciplinary field of practice are based on the core concepts and principles of health promotion as defined in the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (World Health Organization, 1986). The emergence of a specialized health promotion workforce is relatively recent and still lacks a clear occupational identity in many countries. The evolving and diverse nature of the workforce underscores the importance of clearly articulating the unique contributions of health promotion to population health improvement and to identifying the specific knowledge and competencies that underpin health promotion and that make it a distinctive area of practice. The health promotion workforce includes both specialists, who provide leadership in the development and implementation of policy and practice across a range of settings, and a wider workforce, who are drawn from across different sectors such as health, education, employment, and community and whose work incorporates a health promotion perspective. This article focuses primarily on the literature regarding those within the health promotion workforce who are dedicated specialists with relevant education and training. Specific areas of health promotion workforce capacity development, such as competency-based approaches professional standards and quality assurance of the health promotion workforce through accreditation are included. Public health and health education workforce capacity sources that identify health promotion as a core function or which embrace its key principles and concepts are also covered.

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