Getting started on health promotion assignments
Identify a population and/or health issue:
Sometimes you will be given an issue or population group to focus on, at other times you need to choose one yourself. If choosing your own topic consider:
Where do you want to work in the future? If you’re interested in paediatrics, choose an issue that affects children. If you’re in a competitive field, knowledge of Aboriginal health could be a plus…
Look for policy, programs and strategies
See what is being done to address this issue
Some programs will focus on prevention, others on harm reduction
Government policy will often set broad goals and direct funding priorities, but won’t necessarily include specific strategies
Smaller organisations might have programs targeted to specific populations
Look for 3-4 different approaches to your health issue or population - it’s fine if these are from different countries, or target only the issue or the population (but not both).
Looking at different approaches helps you more easily identify the differences, strengths and weaknesses in each.
Find the facts:
Once you’ve got a health issue, population group and approach figured out, look for the statistics that you need to highlight the issue:
Demographics - what is the population of a certain area or group?
Available services - what is already in place for your population? Are they using it? Is usage increasing or decreasing?
Epidemiology - what are the incidence rates within your population? (Do you need to compare it to other populations? You’ll need their stats too!)
Pathophysiology - often you need to describe how the health issue affects people physically (as well as in other ways)
Look for evidence of effectiveness:
What barriers are identified for your population group/health issue?
What facilitators have been found to help? Look for evidence of effectiveness with your population OR health issue, not necessarily both together.
It is important to back up your arguments with evidence from the scholarly literature.
Some databases will have a subject heading of "Health promotion" which has the scope note:
"The process of fostering awareness, influencing attitudes, and identifying alternatives so that individuals can make informed choices and change their behavior to achieve an optimum level of physical and mental health and improve their physical and social environment."
Combine this subject heading with your topic to narrow down the results.