Health promotion programs aim to encourage people to control their lives and enhance their health and wellbeing. Medical professional formulating health promotion programs utilize theoretical frameworks and models to provide an understanding of healthcare needs and how external environment influence behavior. The models are equally crucial in helping healthcare professionals to conduct community assessments to establish whether a specific health promotion program suits the needs of the people. Peers for Progress is an example of a healthcare promotion program aimed at encouraging peers to provide social support to each other. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate the applicability of the ecological health model to Peer for Progress program.
Health Education and Promotion
Healthcare professionals frequently use health education and promotion concepts interchangeably. However, the two concepts are different. Health education envisages consciously constructed opportunities intended for learning and imparting knowledge through varied forms of communication (Bezner, 2015). These opportunities are designed to improve health literacy and development skills conducive to personal and communal health. On the other hand, health promotion entails activities and processes meant to enable people to increase control and improve their health and wellbeing (Bezner, 2015). Health promotion represents a broad array of political and social processes that aim to strengthen skill capabilities and are equally directed at modifying the social, environmental, and economic conditions to guarantee quality health.
Health Promotion Program
Peers for Progress is a health promotion program implemented at community levels to influence behavioral change. This program was developed as part of a peer support initiative regarding diabetes to promote the best practices in communal social support (Fisher, Ballesteros, Bhushan, Coufal, Kowitt, McDonough, Parada, Robinette, Sokol, Tang & Urlaub, 2015). The program is significant because it assists people living with diabetes to manage their conditions. People repeatedly find themselves on their own when managing chronic diseases and conditions (Fisher et al., 2015). Therefore, peer support is an essential approach utilized to link people with similar experiences and provide the practical and emotional support essential in promoting a sustained behavior change in communities.
Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases affecting many people. Its management requires continuous and sustained social support. Peers for Progress program works by strengthening evidence regarding the value of peer support through evaluation grants (Fisher et al., 2015). Moreover, this program encourages the recognition of contemporary best practices concerning peer support by defining key functions and support tailored according to the needs of patients. Thus, the Peers for Progress program emphasizes social peer support to encourage sharing of experiences among people to help them manage their diabetic conditions.
Health Promotion Model
There are broad arrays of theories and models utilized to support community-based health promotion and disease prevention and management. Theories and models are essential tools utilized by healthcare professionals to plan, understand, and explain behavior essential in guiding the identification, development, and execution of health promotion interventions (Haughton, Ayala, Burke, Elder, Montañez & Arredondo, 2015). In this regard, the ecological health promotion model is applicable in the Peer for Progress program. This model examines the interactions between independent factors within the community to address chronic diseases and health problems (Haughton et al., 2015). As such, this model examines the interactions between diabetic patients and the physical and sociocultural environment. Specifically, the ecological model recognizes that individual and interpersonal factors influence health behaviors. The ecological model focuses on an individual’s knowledge, attitude, belief, and personality while highlighting how the mentioned factors influence a person to manage chronic diseases (Haughton et al., 2015). Consequently, managing diabetes takes into account the interactions of diabetic friends with peers. These people provide the necessary social support meant to promote healthy behavior among patients.
The Peers for Progress program relies on the social support provided by peers. The aspect of social support is envisaged in the ecological models as a primary determinant of the dietary behavior of diabetic patients. Indeed, diabetic patients often prefer attending their medical appointments with family members or friends. Further, diabetic patients also endure the pressure of caring for their diabetic friends and family members. The pressure includes the desire to limit the intake of oily foods. The decision to limit unhealthy food intake constitutes changes envisaged in the Peers for Progress health promotion program. This program encourages patients to be role models for people already at risk of chronic diseases (Haughton et al., 2015). Peers are conscious of helping friends and family members to change their nutritional food intake behaviors. As such, they demonstrate the desire to provide social support by advocating and encouraging the consumption of healthy foods. Thus, the supportive behavior and experiences shared by peers influence the social support offered in the social environment to influence behavioral change.
Health education and promotion are different. Health education involves imparting knowledge and literacy skills through communication to increase health literacy, while promotion envisages activities aimed at helping people increase control and improve their health and wellbeing. Peers for Progress is a healthcare program that encourages peers to provide social support to each other to manage diabetes. The Peer for Progress aligns with the ecological health promotion program that enables diabetic patients to support one another and instigate behavior change in the social environment. The health promotion program raises the applicability of peer support to promote good health care for all community members.
Bezner, J. (2015). Promoting health and wellness: Implications for physical therapist practice. Physical Therapy, 95(10), 1433–1444.
Fisher, E., Ballesteros, J., Bhushan, N., Coufal, M., Kowitt, S., McDonough, M., Parada, H., Robinette, J., Sokol, R., Tang, P., & Urlaub, D. (2015). Key features of peer support in chronic disease prevention and management. Health Affairs, 34(9), 1523-1529.
Haughton, J., Ayala, G., Burke, K., Elder, J., Montañez, J., & Arredondo, E. (2015). Community health workers promoting physical activity: Targeting multiple levels of the social-ecological model. The Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, 38(4), 309–320.