Translating the Socio-Ecological Perspective Into Multilevel Interventions: Gaps Between Theory and Practice

Health Educ Behav. 2016 Feb;43(1):17-20. doi: 10.1177/1090198115605309.


Multilevel interventions are inspired by socio-ecological models, and seek to create change on various levels-for example by increasing the health literacy of individuals as well as modifying the social norms within a community. Despite becoming a buzzword in public health, actual multilevel interventions remain scarce. In this commentary, we explore the operational and empirical barriers to designing and implementing multilevel interventions, and argue that the current theoretical framework based on the socio-ecological model is insufficient to guide those seeking to design multilevel interventions. We consider two theories, namely, the complementarity principle theory and the risk compensation theory-to address the gap between theory and translation into practice.

Keywords: behavioral theories; community health; health behavior; health promotion; social ecology.

MeSH terms

  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion* / methods
  • Humans
  • Public Health
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Theory