Health Promotion Glossary of Terms

The World Health Organization (WHO) leads in the development, publication and revision of the health promotion glossary. The first Health Promotion Glossary was published in 1986 to help clarify the meaning and relationship between many terms used in WHO documents and publications. It underwent a full revision in 1998 (Health Promotion Glossary) and an addendum report on the new terms in health promotion was published in 2006.

Healthy People

After 35 years the Health Promotion Glossary of Terms 2021 has continued to evolve. This current version provides an updated overview of the many concepts and terms that are central to contemporary health promotion. As previously, the basic aim of the glossary is to facilitate communication both between and within countries, and among the professions and sectors directly and/or indirectly contributing to the promotion of health. The list of terms included is not intended to be either exhaustive or exclusive.

Many terms within the current glossary will be refined and new terms will be included as it is further developed to reflect the most up-to-date understanding of health promotion concepts, strategies and their practical application in countries.

1998 Health Promotion Glossary

The WHO Health Promotion Glossary was written to facilitate understanding, communication and cooperation among those engaged in health promotion at the local, regional, national and global levels. Two editions of the Glossary have been released, the first in 1986 and the second in 1998.

Health Promotion Glossary of Terms 2021

This version of the glossary is substantially changed from the original. Some terms have been omitted, many have been modified in light of practical experiences and the evolution in concepts, and new terms have been added. The list of terms is not intended to be either exhaustive or exclusive, and draws upon the wide range of disciplines in which health promotion has its roots. Wherever possible, definitions are sourced or derived from existing, publicly accessible WHO documents. Specific sources are referenced, and where possible a web link is also provided to facilitate access to source documents. Hyperlinks were correct at the time of publication but are subject 2 Health Promotion Glossary of Terms 2021 to inevitable change. In some examples the definitions have been adapted to reflect the application of a term to the current health promotion context. Where relevant, this focus is acknowledged in individual definitions.

The definitions are intentionally concise and are not intended as full interpretations, which may be found in other publications. For each definition, short notes of explanation have been added.