Overview: What dilemmas arise in relation to programs that give information about health to individuals and groups? ; What are the differences between individualist and structuralist health promotion programs? ; How can individualist health promotion programs further the medicalisation of everyday life? Health promotion is a relatively recent concept, although public health programs in the broader sense date back to the nineteenth century. While a range of international documents in the last few decades have stressed a broad agenda for health promotion, most Western countries approach health promotion in a very restricted way. The World Health Organization approach suggests that we should not only give health information to individuals and groups, but also make attempts to improve living standards and to involve local communities in constructing their own health agendas. This chapter refers to the limited information-giving approach as the 'individualist health promotion model' and to the broader model as the 'structuralist-collectivist model'. The individualist model is firmly backed by politicians and bureaucrats (because it is easy); and most health professionals, and psychologists (because their jobs are tied to this approach). This chapter provides a number of criticisms of the individualist model and discusses some examples of a structuralist-collectivist approach.
Second Opinion: An Introduction to Health Sociology p. 208-228