Asset or strengths based approaches
Traditional approaches to health improvement generally concentrate on the problem or deficit. For example- smoking, obesity etc. They generally rely on the provision of advice and information to individuals about what they need to change or modify. Health asset or strengths based approaches recognise that rather than starting with deficits there should be an emphasis on what is working in a person's life and what people care about. Strengths or asset based approaches require practitioners to recognise that some individuals need extra support work to harness these assets for their own wellbeing.
The World Health Organisation 29 defines health as: 'a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity'
'Health Assets' or 'strengths'
Health assets are strengths within an individuals' possession. They embrace both internal and external strengths. Internal strengths include positive relationships with others, the motivation to control or change individual circumstances, and the presence of protective personal characteristics such as for example a resilient personality and/or a sense of optimism. External characteristics include social support networks, expectations of others, and physical and environmental elements. The antecedents of health assets are genes, values, beliefs, and life experiences. Health assets mobilise an individual to engage in risk assessment, decision making, and change. The consequences of health assets are positive health behaviours that can lead to control, self-efficacy and improved health outcomes.
Health improvement refers to a combination of activity across the spectrum from health promotion activity to preventative services such as vaccination or screening services to care services to treat or respond to illness, disease or disability.
Health inequalities are differences in health experiences and health outcomes between different groups according to socio-economic status, geographical area, age, disability, gender or ethnic group.
The World Health Organisation's definition of Health Literacy is 'the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health'
The World Health Organization defines health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. To reach a state of complete physical, mental and social
wellbeing, an individual or group must be able to identify and to realise aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment. Health is, therefore, seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasising social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. Therefore, health promotion is not just the responsibility of the health sector, but goes beyond healthy lifestyles to wellbeing. 30
Primary care refers to services provided by GP practices, dental practices, community pharmacists and high street optometrists. Around 90% of peoples contact with the NHS is with these services
Public health is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life an promoting health through the organised efforts and informed choices of society, organisations , public and private, communities and individuals. 31
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