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

  • Introduction

Public Health Health Promotion Workforce Capacity
Barbara Battel-Kirk, Colette Dempsey, Margaret M. Barry
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 March 2018
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 March 2018
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0175

Barbara Battel-Kirk, Colette Dempsey, and Margaret M. Barry updated this article on 28 March 2018. It was originally written by Margaret M. Barry, Barbara Battel-Kirk, and Colette Dempsey, published on 30 June 2014. The original article can be found here.


A skilled workforce is recognized as being critical to delivering on the core values, principles, political vision, and strategic objectives of health promotion as outlined in World Health Organization (WHO) charters and directives, international agreements, and national policies. 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. Globally the health promotion workforce is diverse in terms of qualifications, experience, disciplinary backgrounds, levels of training, and type of practice, and it encompasses a broad range of people and agencies who work to promote population health. The emergence of a specialized health promotion workforce is relatively recent, not widespread globally, and lacks a clear occupational identity in many countries, with the job title “Health Promotion” not always used. However, whatever terms and job titles are used, 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 in 1986. The evolving and diverse nature of the workforce underscores the importance of clearly articulating the unique contribution that health promotion makes to population health improvement. It also underlines the need to identify the specific knowledge and competencies that make it a distinctive area of practice and which underpin effective and ethical practice. The health promotion workforce includes specialists who provide leadership in the development and implementation of policy and practice across a range of settings, and a wider workforce across different sectors, including health, education, and community, whose work incorporates a health promotion perspective. This article focuses primarily on the literature, available mainly in English, regarding the workforce comprising dedicated health promotion specialists with relevant education and training. Competency-based approaches to health promotion workforce capacity development, including core competencies, professional standards, and related accreditation/credentialing, form a major focus. Public health and health education sources on workforce capacity, which incorporate health promotion as a core function or which embrace its key principles and concepts, are also included. The sections on competency-based approaches are presented under geographic headings and are divided into published sources and reports where appropriate. Competent frameworks are presented separately under each related heading.

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