Health Promotion

Exploring the aims of health promotion and discussing the various theories and models that will empower clients and help them to improve their sexual health


Barnes, J. (2009) Health promotion in sexual health 1: different theories and models of health promotion. Nursing Times; 105: 18, early online publication.

This is the first in a two-part unit on health promotion in sexual health care. It discusses the aims of health promotion and various models and theories. It considers the importance of building empowerment, autonomy and self-efficacy.

This article has been double-blind peer-reviewed
Keywords: Sexual health, Health promotion, Behaviour change


Jayne Barnes, BSc, Diploma HE in Midwifery Studies, RGN, is contraceptive and sexual health nurse, contraceptive and sexual health service, Stockport PCT.

Learning objectives

Understand what health promotion is and its importance in sexual health care.
Know about the various theoretical perspectives in health promotion.


People access sexual health services for a variety of reasons. Clients invariably receive some testing, treatment and advice on self-care, with an expectation that they will continue this care until their next appointment (if appropriate) or the next time they need to attend services. Intermittent contact between clients and healthcare professionals presents an ideal opportunity for health promotion advice.

There has been much debate about health promotion. This surrounds the question of whether health is simply an absence of disease or incorporates a wider meaning with social and psychological aspects. Health is defined as ‘a complete physical, mental and social well-being’ (World Health Organization, 1948). The Ottawa Charter (1986) defined health promotion as the process by which people increase control over and improve their health.

This indicates that health promotion focuses on the individual with an emphasis on the whole...