What is it about?

The World Health Organization's (WHO) Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion in 1986 provided the catalyst from which the Health Promoting Workplace movement emerged. This article provides an extensive evaluation of the available workplace‐related health literature provides the basis for critical discussion and recommendations for health care managers.

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Why is it important?

The findings suggest that health care managers, who practice in all health service settings, should be aiming to initiate and promote radical health promotion reform as set out in the WHO settings‐based movement. Developing and implementing sustainable health promotion‐orientated and organization‐wide healthy workplace policy initiatives represent the most effective way for health care managers to directly benefit from the desirable outcomes that come from creating and maintaining a healthy workforce.


It is known that workplaces are 'excellent' locations for promoting health – especially as time spent here by employees usually exceeds that spent in other locations (Price et al. 2000). Few health care managers can justify not pursuing the direct benefits that a healthy workforce generates. Health care managers face a tenuous situ- ation if they ignore their existing commitments to health and safety legislation and public health policy imperatives. Managers, instead, are required to actively acknowledge the strong moral and economic grounds that underpin the development of a healthy workforce. Healthy workplaces prevent occupational disease/acci- dents, promote the concept of positive lifestyle behav- iours and facilitate organizational development. The case for promoting healthy situations and environments in the workplace would therefore appear to be com- pelling, yet many managers still ignore its place and function. Both Sang and McClenhan (1998) and Johnson et al. (2003) note the increasing amount of literature that highlights the rapidly deteriorating poor workplace-related health status of health professionals. Consequently, managers need to act to ensure that health-promoting workplace strategies are in place, planned for the long-term, well resourced and are effectively monitored and evaluated for process and impact outcomes. Alongside the acquisition of a base- line and sustained organizational health needs assess- ment, this requires a sustained whole-organization capacity-building commitment and reform. Trying to extract more from a potentially over-worked, over- stressed and unhealthy workforce, without committing the necessary health-promoting resources to combat these situations, leaves health care managers pursuing a 'fool’s errand'.

Dr Dean Whitehead
Flinders University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Workplace health promotion: the role and responsibility of health care managers, Journal of Nursing Management, January 2006, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2934.2005.00599.x.
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