Introduction: Although there is general agreement about the complex interplay among individual-, family-, organizational-, and community-level factors as they influence health outcomes, there is still a gap between health promotion research and practice. The authors suggest that a disjuncture exists between the multiple theories and models of health promotion and the practitioner's need for a more unified set of guidelines for comprehensive planning of programs. Therefore, we put forward in this paper an idea toward closing the gap between research and practice, a case for developing an overarching framework--with several health promotion models that could integrate existing theories--and applying it to comprehensive health promotion strategy.
An integrative framework: We outline a theoretical foundation for future health promotion research and practice that integrates four models: the social ecology; the Life Course Health Development; the Predisposing, Reinforcing, and Enabling Constructs in Educational/Environmental Diagnosis and Evaluation-Policy, Regulatory and Organizational Constructs in Educational and Environmental Development; and the community partnering models. The first three models are well developed and complementary. There is little consensus on the latter model, community partnering. However, we suggest that such a model is a vital part of an overall framework, and we present an approach to reconciling theoretical tensions among researchers and practitioners involved in community health promotion.
Integrating the models: THE NEED FOR SYSTEMS THEORY AND THINKING: Systems theory has been relatively ignored both by the health promotion field and, more generally, by the health services. We make a case for greater use of systems theory in the development of an overall framework, both to improve integration and to incorporate key concepts from the diverse systems literatures of other disciplines.
Vision for healthy communities: (1) Researchers and practitioners understand the complex interplay among individual-, family-, organizational-, and community-level factors as they influence population health; (2) health promotion researchers and practitioners collaborate effectively with others in the community to create integrated strategies that work as a system to address a wide array of health-related factors; (3) The Healthy People Objectives for the Nation includes balanced indicators to reflect health promotion realities and research-measures effects on all levels; (4) the gap between community health promotion "best practices" guidelines and the way things work in the everyday world of health promotion practice has been substantially closed.
Conclusions and recommendations: We suggest critical next steps toward closing the gap between health promotion research and practice: investing in networks that promote, support, and sustain ongoing dialogue and sharing of experience; finding common ground in an approach to community partnering; and gaining consensus on the proposed integrating framework.