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Difference Between Health Promotion and Health Education

Health promotion is concerned with promoting a healthy lifestyle and preventing illness and it includes social, psychological, political, and educational factors. Health education is concerned with informing people about health issues.

What is Health promotion?


Health promotion entails aspects including education, a consideration of psychological, political, and social factors, with the aim of improving a person’s health. Health promotion can also help prevent disease by encouraging healthy choices and instituting policies and programs that help the general population.

History of health promotion: 

The first formal conference on health promotion was convened in Ottawa in 1986 and involved the World Health Organization, which still holds conferences often. The WHO also started establishing guidelines for health promotion to be used by the global community.

People involved in health promotion:

Government agencies such as the WHO, and CDC, as well as community leaders and non-government organizations are all directly involved in promoting health. People in agencies such as the CDC promote health via education but also via disease surveillance, gathering statistics, conducting research, and helping contain disease outbreaks and epidemics. Health educators indirectly contribute to promotion of health by informing individuals about healthy choices they can make. 

Examples of health promotion:

Health promotion includes developing policies for improving health of the populace, and making people aware of what they can do to prevent disease and improve their health. This can be done via government programs and policies. It is easy to confuse health promotion with education; however, education is only one small part of health promotion. Health promotion also includes a broad range of factors including cultural factors and social aspects.

What is Health education?


Health education is specifically concerned with educating and informing people about health issues. Education is one aspect of promoting a healthy lifestyle and is related to health promotion in this regard.

History of health education:

The idea of health education first came about in the 19th century but only was formally introduced in the form of public health schools in the US sometime between the years 1914 to 1939; the first endowed school of public health was Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health in the United States.

People involved in health education:

People who work in health education are found in schools, the community and as part of government agencies and non-profit organizations. University lecturers and school teachers teaching courses in health and nutrition are all important in educating young people about health topics. Parents are probably the first people a child learns from when it comes to health issues; for instance, parents teach young children about basic hygiene that helps to prevent disease.

Examples of health education:

Professionals often develop courses, lectures, seminars, webinars, and pamphlets as part of health education. Schools and colleges may offer health classes and courses in nutrition, for instance. Health education can be confused with health promotion because through informing people, one assumes it would help them make healthier and better decisions. However, health promotion also includes government policy development for the population.

Difference between Health promotion and Health education?


Health promotion aims to improve a person’s health via education, a consideration of psychological, cultural, social and political factors. Health education has the aim of informing people about health.


Health promotion was only properly formalized by the WHO, and became an area of expertise in 1986, which was when the first conference was held. In the case of health education, formal colleges and public health schools first came about between the years of 1914 and 1939. 

Form it takes

Health promotion can take many forms including the development of public policies and outreach programs, as well as the development and dispersal of educational materials. Health education takes the form of lectures, courses, seminars, webinars, and pamphlets.

Social and political factors

Recently there has been an increased emphasis on social and political factors when it comes to health promotion. There has been no specific increased emphasis on political and social aspects in health education.

Government policy

Government policy is an important component of health promotion. Government policy is not a specific part of health education.

Table comparing Health promotion and Health education

Summary of Health promotion Vs. Health education

  • Health promotion and health education are easily confused because both concepts are closely related and work together to help people make wise decisions about their health.
  • Health education is one aspect of promoting a healthy lifestyle and it only aims to inform people and give them knowledge about health.
  • Health promotion is more general and broad of an area and it involves government policy-making in addition to education.
  • Health promotion also includes areas such as cultural, social and political factors, in addition to education.

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References :

[0]Gebbie, Kristine, Linda Rosenstock, and Lyla M. Hernandez. "History and Current Status of Public Health Education in the United States." Who Will Keep the Public Healthy? Educating Public Health Professionals for the 21st Century. National Academies Press (US), 2003.

[1]Kumar, Sanjiv, and G. S. Preetha. "Health promotion: an effective tool for global health." Indian journal of community medicine: official publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine 37.1 (2012): 5.

[2]Whitehead, Dean. "Health promotion and health education: advancing the concepts." Journal of advanced nursing 47.3 (2004): 311-320.

[3]Image credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/22/Health_Education_-_The_Noun_Project.svg/500px-Health_Education_-_The_Noun_Project.svg.png

[4]Image credit: https://live.staticflickr.com/5575/15030242570_bea8c6a2eb_b.jpg

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