Exploring health promotion and health education in nursing

Exploring health promotion and health education in nursing

Dean Whitehead Senior lecturer, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand the differences between health promotion and health education and your role in these areas

  • To recognise approaches to illness prevention and promoting well-being that you can use in your practice with patients across their lifespan

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

The term health promotion has been used in healthcare for several years. However, the meaning of this term is debated, particularly in nursing. Some nurses might believe that, because they are healthcare practitioners working in healthcare services, that they are ‘by default’ automatically involved in health promotion activities; however, this is often not the case. Instead, they are more likely to be engaging in health education activities; that is, simply providing individuals with health-related information, rather than seeking to empower individuals, families, groups and communities. While health education is related to health promotion, these terms are not interchangeable, since health education is a component of health promotion. This article clarifies these concepts and describes approaches to illness prevention and promoting well-being that nurses can use in their practice with patients across the lifespan.

Nursing Standard. 33, 8, 38-44. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11220


Whitehead D (2018) Exploring health promotion and health education in nursing. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2018.e11220



Conflict of interest

None declared

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

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