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Early 20th century conceptualization of health promotion
journal contributionposted on 02.08.2018, 00:00 authored by Wendy MadsenWendy Madsen
This historical analysis of the term 'health promotion' during the early 20th century in North American journal articles revealed concepts that strongly resonate with those of the 21st century. However, the lineage between these two time periods is not clear, and indeed, this paper supports contentions health promotion has a disrupted history. This paper traces the conceptualizations of health promotion during the 1920s, attempts to operationalize health promotion in the 1930s resulting in a narrowing of the concept to one of health education, and the disappearance of the term from the 1940s. In doing so, it argues a number of factors influenced the changing conceptualization and utilization of health promotion during the first half of the 20th century, many of which continue to present times, including issues around what health promotion is and what it means, ongoing tensions between individual and collective actions, tensions between specific and general causes of health and ill health, and between expert and societal contributions. The paper concludes the lack of clarity around these issues contributed to health promotion disappearing in the mid-20th century and thus resolution of these would be worthwhile for the continuation and development of health promotion as a discipline into the 21st century.