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Debates and Dilemmas in Promoting Health: a Reader
  1. J Clarkson

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    Edited by M Sidell, L Jones, J Katz, et al. 2nd edition: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, pp 400. ISBN 0333694171

    It is often said that the health promoter must be an expert in generalisation and Debates and Dilemmas in Promoting Health is an illustration of the vast range of issues influencing practice and policy health promotion today.

    The publication is part of The Open University undergraduate course “Promoting Health: Skills, Perspectives and Practice”. It presents a collection of articles by an impressive range of authors, and although the preface states that these aim to challenge preconceptions and evoke a critical understanding of current health issues, some of these are drawn from other publications and are some years old.

    The book is divided into four sections and the introduction to each section from the editors attempts to summarise the key points and common themes. Overall, the reader should be left in no doubt about the complexity and lack of definitive answers in modern health promotion.

    In the years since the defining events of the 1970s and 1980s that gave rise to the Alma Ata Declaration and the Ottawa Charter, health promotion has been increasingly subject to debates, dilemmas, and criticisms. The knowledge base for health advice becomes seemingly ever more complex and the balance between individual, community, and government responsibility appears to be in continual flux. The all-embracing definitions of health with which we work present enormous challenges in a climate of increasing need to demonstrate output and cost effectiveness.

    The first section, “Key issues in health promotion”, aims to explore some of the current thinking at the heart of health promotion, and offers a number of different perspectives on this thinking. Charles Webster and Jeff …

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