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From The CriticsReviewer: Michele A Kelley, ScD, MSW, MA (University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health)
Description: This update of a 2002 book provides a comprehensive review of the scientific basis of health promotion to foster healthier behaviors and lives. The book is logically organized according to level of analysis, e.g., individual, community, and ecological levels of intervention.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide up-to-date information on innovations in the science of health promotion practice and research and practical examples of application. The fields of public health and health promotion are challenged to apply scientific principles and evidence-informed approaches to foster healthier lives, yet a wide gap remains between research and practice. This well-organized book offers current and practical information across a variety of applications and problems in health promotion and public health practice. Future directions for research and gaps in knowledge are discussed.
Audience: The book is aimed at practitioner-scientists in public health and health promotion. Graduate students in public health-related disciplines as well as advanced practitioners and experienced researchers can potentially benefit from the thorough review of key emerging theories and practical examples of application throughout the text. The editors are well-known experts in health promotion practice and research and they have done an excellent job of selecting exemplary scholars for writing specific topical chapters.
Features: Specific chapters under the broader section headings of individual, community, and ecological relate to current theories of great interest to the field, such as self-esteem enhancement theory (individual) and community coalition action theory (community level). Early on, an introduction to theory grounds less experienced readers in the role of theory in health promotion research and practice, and a concluding chapter outlines challenges to the field in applying theory in intervention contexts. While the book is very thorough and references and examples of application are current, a potential shortcoming is insufficient attention to the complexities and ripple effects of implementation in real world settings. This is not a specific limitation of this excellent book, however, as the entire field is in need of implementation theories and application of systems theory to practice and research. Such theory, for example, would view interventions as cultural products and address how individual-based theories have unintended and largely unmeasured ecological consequences. Thus, the boundaries between any level of application and analysis (individual, community, and ecological) are largely fluid and unaccounted for.
Assessment: This book successfully addresses a need in the field to advance understanding of new directions for research and how emerging science can enhance practice. Many topics and approaches to health promotion covered in this book are not covered in other well-regarded books, such as Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice, 4th edition, Glanz et al. (Jossey Bass, 2008). In fact, the Glanz book could be considered a companion text if one looks at purchasing patterns from online vendors. This edition of Emerging Theories adds new information and includes revisions that reflect the most recent and innovative thinking and research findings.