An ecological perspective on health promotion programs

Health Educ Q. 1988 Winter;15(4):351-77. doi: 10.1177/109019818801500401.


During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in societal interest in preventing disability and death in the United States by changing individual behaviors linked to the risk of contracting chronic diseases. This renewed interest in health promotion and disease prevention has not been without its critics. Some critics have accused proponents of life-style interventions of promoting a victim-blaming ideology by neglecting the importance of social influences on health and disease. This article proposes an ecological model for health promotion which focuses attention on both individual and social environmental factors as targets for health promotion interventions. It addresses the importance of interventions directed at changing interpersonal, organizational, community, and public policy, factors which support and maintain unhealthy behaviors. The model assumes that appropriate changes in the social environment will produce changes in individuals, and that the support of individuals in the population is essential for implementing environmental changes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Services
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Social Environment*