Established in 1996, the Centre for Health Promotion Studies has sought to provide research, education and skills to promote community health and well-being.
In 2006, the Centre was one of three key entities that joined to form the School of Public Health.
Valued for its emphasis on applied research, the Centre has provided opportunities for students to participate in cutting-edge, action-oriented research focused on community health. It does research ‘with’ rather than ‘on’ people. Social justice and health equity lie at the core of its ethos.
“Participation is the key to developing healthy communities. By understanding together what works best for whom in which circumstances, we learn what will be most effective in creating social change for health,” explains Jane Springett, director of the Centre from 2011 to 2015.
One such project is Healthy Alberta Communities*. Formed in 2004, the project operated in four major Alberta communities: North Central Edmonton, St. Paul, Bonnyville and Medicine Hat. The project team worked with each community to remove physical and social barriers that prevent people from making healthy choices—for instance, by providing playgrounds for children and walking trails for all. The project team also tracked community member health, as well as the process of change in the communities, allowing their successes and challenges to inform future projects.
In addition to Healthy Alberta Communities, and working with a variety of partners, researchers in the Centre have focused on:
- addressing gaps and improving policy on addiction and mental health in Alberta;
- investigating the complex relationships between obesity and chronic disease;
- understanding the role of the built and social environment on health and well-being; identifying benefits of, and finding ways to promote, physical activity in many groups, including seniors, individuals suffering from chronic disease, and children;
- and studying the relationship between ecological sustainability, healthy choices and equity.
The Centre’s faculty and instructors contribute to the graduate programs in socio-behavioural sciences and health promotion in the School. *This project was funded by Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and Alberta Health and Wellness.