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Activity: The basic unit in planning. A programme is made up of a set of activities.

Adolescence: The period of psychological and social transition between childhood and adulthood.

Advocacy: Activities directed at changing policy of organizations or governments.

Advocacy for health: A combination of individual and social actions designed to gain political commitment, policy support, social acceptance and systems support for a particular health goal or programme. (WHO, 1995)

Ageism: Attitudes and actions that involve negative assumptions about and discriminate against older people.

Aims: These are general statements of intent that indicate overall priorities and purposes without going into specific details.

Appeal: The way in which a message is presented, such as using logical arguments, humour, or fear (scare tactics).

Assertiveness: Putting forward your own point of view in a positive non-aggressive way.

At-risk group: The section of the population in a community that has the greatest health need.

Audience research: The process of carrying out research on the media habits of the community including watching, listening and reading habits, favourite programmes and information sources. Most newspapers, radio and television stations publish viewing/listening figures and profiles of their audiences. 


Behaviour: A word used to describe specific acts that a person carries out. The terms Actions and Practices are functionally equivalent.

Bullying: Persistent unwelcome behaviour, mostly using unwarranted or invalid criticism, nit-picking, fault-finding, also exclusion, isolation, being singled out and treated differently, being shouted at, or humiliated, excessive monitoring, having verbal and written warnings imposed, and much more. Bullying is usually a series of incidents over time (unlike harassment or assault which usually refers to a single incident). (Adapted from


Campaign: A short, intensive programme of mass media often supported by other activities such as public events and endorsement by celebrities.

Cause: Any factor that can directly lead to disease e.g. chemicals, radiation, micro-organisms, environment, lifestyle/behaviour.

Coalition: A group of like-minded people or organizations that work together to achieve common goals.

Community: A specific group of people, often living in a defined geographical area, who share a common culture, and who are arranged in a social structure according to relationships which have developed over a period of time. Members of a community gain their personal and social identity by sharing common beliefs, values and norms that have been developed in the past and may be modified in the future. They exhibit some awareness of their identity as a group, and share common needs and a commitment to meeting them. (WHO 1998)

Community action for health: Collective efforts by communities which are directed towards increasing community control over the determinants of health, and thereby improving health. (WHO 1998)

Community capacity:  The sum total of understanding, skills and organizational structure that enable a community to identify, mobilize and address social and public health problems. Adapted from Norton et al. (2002)

Community health empowerment: Individuals acting collectively to gain greater influence and control over the determinants of health and the quality of life in their community. It is an important goal in community action for health. (Adapted from WHO 1998)

Confounding factors: These are factors which appear to be associated with a disease, but in fact are not causal.

Counselling: A process for one-to-one communication that goes beyond just providing information to clients, and involves providing support, help in making difficult decisions and therapy to manage specific conditions. Another purpose is to provide therapy to people with special needs.

Curriculum: Everything children do, see, hear or feel in their setting, both planned and unplanned. (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 2000)


Delegation: The process of passing on responsibilities for carrying out tasks to others.

Development: Changes in skill and capacity to function during life.


eHealth – the integration of health care delivery and information delivery through the web and related technologies.

Elderly support ratio: The number of persons aged 65 years or over per 100 persons compared to those aged 20-64 years.

Empowered patient: A patient who has the necessary information, skills and confidence to play an active role in their recovery.

Epidemic: Involves an increase in the number of cases compared to past experience for a given population.

Epidemiology: The study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to control health problems. (Last et al. 2000)

Equity in health: Equity means fairness. Equity in health means that people’s needs guide the distribution of opportunities for wellbeing. (WHO 1996)

Evaluation: A systematic way of learning from experience and using the lessons learnt to improve current activities and promote better planning by careful selection of alternatives for future action. This involves a critical analysis of different aspects of the development and implementation of a programme and the activities that constitute it, its relevance, its formulation, its efficiency and effectiveness, its costs and its acceptance by all parties involved. (WHO 1981)

Expert patient: An approach that sees the patient in a partnership role with the health provider in taking decisions about the management of his or her condition.

External validity: The extent to which that the same success could be repeated in other communities.


Formats: The different ways in which material and information are presented in a given type of media.


Gatekeepers: People with power and control over specific policies, access to the policy-making process or resources that you may need for influencing policy.

Genome: The complete set of genetic information contained in a person’s DNA.

Group: Any number of people who (i) interact with one another, (ii) are psychologically aware of one another and (iii) perceive themselves to be a group. (Schein 1980)

Group dynamics: The study of how groups function.


Health agenda: Health issues in the media, public or policy domain ranked according to the amount of time, attention and importance that they are given both in discussion, debate and action. 

Health behaviour:  Behaviours carried out by healthy people to keep themselves healthy. Primary prevention involves the promotion of health behaviours.

Heath Consumer Groups: Voluntary sector organizations that seek to promote and/or represent the interest of users and/or carers in the health arena at national level. (Baggott et al. 2005)

Health education: ‘A process with intellectual, psychological and social dimensions relating to activities that increase the abilities of people to make informed decisions affecting their personal, family and community wellbeing. This process, based on scientific principles, facilitates learning and behavioural change in both health personnel and consumers, including children and youth.’ (Ross and Mico 1997)

Health issue: A health problem that has received mass media coverage.

Health needs assessment: A systematic method for reviewing the health issues facing a population, leading to agreed priorities and resource allocation that will improve health and reduce inequalities. (Department of Health, 2005)

Health promotion: The process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.

Health promotion evaluation: An assessment of the extent to which health promotion actions achieve a “valued” outcome. (WHO 1998)

Health promotion outcomes: Changes to personal characteristics and skills, and/or social norms and actions, and/or organizational practices and public policies which are attributable to a health promotion activity. (WHO 1998)

Healthy city: A city that is continually creating and improving its physical and social environments and expanding those community resources which enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and in developing to their maximum potential. (WHO, 1998)

Holistic approach: An approach that addresses all of the dimensions of health (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, vocational, social).


Ice breaker: An activity at the beginning of a course or group activity that helps people get to know each other and feel comfortable about working together.

Illness behaviours: Behaviours carried out by people when they perceive themselves to have symptoms of illness. Secondary prevention involves encouraging appropriate illness behaviours.

Incidence: Number of new cases of a disease in a given time period (per year, month, week etc).

Internal validity: The demonstration that an intervention was effective in the test community.

Intersectoral: Activities that bring together in joint action different sectors, e.g. education, health, environment, industry.


Legibility: The ease by which letters and words in text can be recognized – it depends on the choice of font, size of the type and how clearly it has been printed.

Life course: The social element of a life span which may have fairly clear ‘stages’ or transitions but may also be marked by planned or unplanned life events. (Adapted from Hunt 2005)

Life events: Important events that happen in a person’s life course.

Life skills: Abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.  (WHO, 1993)

Life span: The overall duration of a person’s life determined by natural, environmental and social processes.

Lifestyle: The sum total of behaviours that make up the way people live including leisure and work.

Literacy: The ability of people to make sense of the printed word.


Maturation: Changes in the body including height, weight and the size of organs and neurons in the brain.

Meta-analysis: A study of the research literature on a particular issue or topic. A statistical analysis of the data presented in the various studies under examination is carried out and an overview of the findings is presented.

Mission statements: These are similar to vision statements but refer specifically to the aims and purpose of an organization.

Monitoring: A continuous review of a programme to identify and solve problems so that activities can be implemented effectively.

Motivations: Internal factors within a person that influence their actions. While behaviours can be directly observed, motivations are based on thought processes such as beliefs, attitudes, values and drives which can only be determined indirectly through processes such as questioning. 


Non-verbal leakage: When your body language gives an impression that you did not intend to convey, e.g. if by yawning, looking at your watch or looking at your notes you give the impression that you are not interested or are showing disapproval of what people are telling you.

Norms: These are patterns of behaviour that are shared by a group of people, at regional and national level. Another word for a norm is a custom.


Objectives – also called targets: These are very precise measurable statements of what is to be achieved by an activity.

Open-ended and closed questions: Closed questions ask questions that require very specific answers of a yes or no kind. Open-ended questions use words like “why” and “how” and encourage people to talk about their situation, e.g. Why do you think that happened?

Opinion leader: A person in a community network who has influence over the way others in that community think and act.

Outreach: Programmes where people go out into homes and other community settings to carry out health promotion activities.


Partnership: Local collaboration by statutory, voluntary, community and private-sector organizations in planning and implementing economic, social and health programmes. (Henderson et al. 2004)

Patient journey: The pattern of use/uptake and movements between formal and informal health care workers and services by a patient during the management of their illness.

Peer education: Community programmes in which members of a community or group of people are recruited, trained and supported to carry out health promotion among their peers.

Personal, social and health education (PSHE): PSHE provides pupils with the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes needed to make informed decisions about their lives. (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, 2000)

Poverty: A state of low income. Poverty can be measured according to whether or not a person has an income that is below half the national average (relative poverty) or is eligible to claim means-tested social benefits (absolute poverty).

PRA - Participatory Rural Appraisal: A method of collecting data on community needs that uses both qualitative and participatory approaches. Increasingly the term PLA (Participatory Learning and Appraisal) is used. 

Pressure group: An organization that seeks to represent interests or preferences in society that has a certain degree of independence from government and is not a recognized political party. (Baggott 1995)

Pre-testing: The process of showing draft (proto-type) materials to a sample of the intended target audience to check for attractiveness of content, understanding, acceptability and relevance.

Prevalence: Total number of persons in a population with a disease at a given date (point prevalence) or in a given period (period prevalence).

Puberty: The time when a person develops physical and reproductive maturity.

Public health: The science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of society. (Department of Health, 1998)


Readability: The extent to which the meaning of a piece of writing can be understood. Readability depends on the choice of words, length of sentences and complexity of ideas.

Resource mobilization: The process of obtaining the resources you need to implement your planned activities.

Resource provider: An organization which might be able to provide you with financial resources. Each potential funder will have its own special interests and criteria for offering grants/loans.

Risk factor: Somethingwhich can increase the likelihood of disease but on its own is insufficient to cause disease (e.g. age, sex, family history, low income).


Screening: The organized attempt to detect, among apparently healthy people in the community, disorders or risk factors of which they were unaware.

Self-efficacy: Belief in one's capabilities to organize and execute the actions required to manage prospective situations.

Self-esteem: The extent to which a person regards him- or herself to be of value.

Service improvement: Promoting change in services to make them more effective, accessible or acceptable to the community.

Setting: A specific context/location from which to carry out health promotion. Common settings are health facilities, the workplace, schools, the community and institutions.

Significant other: The individual who has the most influence on our lives – usually a partner, parent, family member or close friend.

Social capital: The networks, norms, relationships, values and informal sanctions that shape the quantity and co-operative quality of a society’s social interactions. (Office of National Statistics, 2003)

Social class: A measure of a person’s position in society.

Social exclusion: A term to describe the structures and dynamic processes of inequality among groups in society. Social exclusion refers to the inability of certain groups or individuals to participate fully in life due to structural inequalities in access to social, economic, political and cultural resources. These inequalities arise out of oppression related to race, class, gender, disability, sexual orientation, immigrant status and religion. (Adapted from Galabuzi 2002)

Social inclusion: Activities designed to address and reverse social exclusion.

Social marketing: The design, implementation and control of programmes calculated to influence the acceptability of social ideas and involving considerations of product planning, pricing, communication, distribution and marketing research. (Kotler and Zaltman, 1971)

Social movements: Informal networks based on shared beliefs and solidarity which mobilize around conflictual issues and deploy frequent and varying forms of protest. (Della Porta and Diani, 1999)

Social networks: “That set of contacts with relatives, friends, neighbours etc. through which individuals maintain a social network and receive emotional support, material aid, services and information and develop new social contacts.” (Walker et al. 1977)

Source credibility: The term used to describe how much we trust particular persons or sources of information.

Stakeholder: Anyone in a community with a vested interest in a particular issue.

Stakeholder analysis: The process of identifying local stakeholders, finding out what they think about what is needed, what they feel about the activities you would like to carry out and whether they will give you support.

Stand-alone computer-based technologies: Technologies that can be used on their own without being connected to the internet. Most stand-alone computer-based technologies can also be delivered via the internet.

Statistical significance: A statistical test can determine the likelihood or probability that the results of an intervention reflect a true effect or are due to chance. The p value (probability) is the likelihood that the result is merely due to chance. If the p value is, for example, less than (<) 0.05, then there is less than a five percent chance that the result is due to chance. The highest p value accepted in most research as evidence of significance is 0.05. If the p value is greater than 0.05 there is a good chance that any apparent benefit of an intervention is a statistical fluke so will have to be disregarded.

Strategy: A set of activities that, when implemented, are intended to achieve the objective/target. 

Structured patient education: A planned course that covers all relevant aspects of the health issue, i.e. is flexible in content, is relevant to a person’s clinical and psychological needs, and is adaptable to a person’s educational and cultural background. (Department of Health 2001)

Subjective norm: A person’s overall perception of whether the people in their network would approve or disapprove of them carrying out a particular action.

Subjective wellbeing: An individual’s personal assessment of their state of well-being.

Supervision: The process by which you monitor progress and ensure that staff are fulfilling their tasks. It also provides an opportunity to give support and training as well as identify and solve any problems that they are facing.

Systematic review: A systematic process of searching out published evaluations of interventions and critically appraising the findings and drawing conclusions on the effectiveness of the methodology under study. Systematic reviews are normally carried out on intervention studies or randomized controlled trials.


Tailored communication: Any combination of information or change strategies intended to reach one specific person based on characteristics that are unique to that person, related to the outcome of interest and have been derived from an individual assessment.  (Kreuter et al. 1999)

Targets – also called objectives: These are very precise measurable statements of what is to be achieved by an activity.

Target group: The section of the community to whom health promotion activities should be directed in order to improve the health of the at-risk group.

Teaching: Facilitation of learning.


Values: Statements about what is right, what is good and what is to be done, what ought to be.

Victim blaming: An approach to health education which emphasizes individual action and does not address external forces that influence the individual person.

Vision statements: These are similar to aims and what the overall end purpose of an activity, group or organization is.

Visual literacy: The ability of people to understand pictures and illustrations using different graphic formats.


Web-based technologies: Technologies that have to be connected to the internet.

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