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Health Promotion Foundations Course

Health Promotions FoundationsDescription 

This series of interactive modules introduces the field of health promotion in Canada. Definitions, concepts, milestones, models, theories, strategies and more, are covered in this self-directed course. Completion certificates are available for each module.

Note: The certificate will display the name you used to register with our website. Please ensure you register with your preferred name.

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People arrive to work in health promotion from a wide of variety of career paths. Those new to practicing health promotion often do not have academic training on the topic and can benefit from information about the foundations of health promotion. This course has been designed for these new practitioners as well as experienced ones who are seeking a refresher. The mandate of Public Health Ontario's Health Promotion Capacity Building team is to support Ontario-based practitioners. However, this course is relevant for all people working in a Canadian context. 


Expected Outcomes

Upon completion of the Health Promotion Foundations Course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the most important definitions and concepts related to health promotion
  • Understand and apply the key values and features underlying health promotion practice
  • Describe some of the key milestones that led to the development of the field of health promotion in Canada
  • Identify and apply key strategies to take action on the health issues affecting individuals and communities


Duration and Technical Requirements

Module lengths vary depending on your pace, but average completion time ranges from 20-30 minutes. The modules include audio so speakers or headphones are required.



Once you have logged in, click the links below to launch each module. Descriptions for each module can be found below the list of links.

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  completed course​ in progress

​certificate is available
upon successful completion
Module Descriptions
Module 1 - Definitions and concepts 

Module one introduces you to the field of health promotion and provides an overview of key health promotion definitions and concepts. This module also outlines some of the key topics and materials that are examined in more depth in this course.

View PDF of this module
Module 2 - Milestones in the history of health promotion

Module two covers the historical milestones that contributed to the development of health promotion practice in Canada as we know it today.

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Module 3 - Introduction to models and theories

Module three is an introduction to health promotion models and theories. Different ways of looking at health and illness are presented. Definitions, roles, origins and applications of theory are discussed, setting the stage for a deeper exploration of theory in future modules.      

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Module 4 - Introduction to an ecological framework, and theory at individual and interpersonal levels

Module four explores key theories commonly used in health promotion practice. It introduces the ecological framework and demonstrates its application to various types of health promotion initiatives. This module particularly focuses on behaviour change theories at the individual and interpersonal level.

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Module 5 - Theories of health behaviour change at the organizational and community levels

Module five reviews the ecological framework and how it explores the complex interaction between people, groups and their environments. Specifically this module discusses theories of health behavior change at the organizational and community levels of the framework, and their applications to health promotion initiatives.

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Module 6 - Theories of change at the public policy/societal level

Module six explores important theories of change at the public policy level. Specifically, it focuses on healthy public policy, the concept of ‘health in all policies’, theories of public policy change and how they can be used to promote health, equitable societies and environments supportive of healthy lifestyles. 

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Module 7 - Health Promotion Strategies: Part one

Module seven introduces two of the eight health promotion strategies for targeting the action areas of the Ottawa Charter with the remaining six strategies covered in later modules.  Specifically, this module is focused on health communication and health education as individual strategies for promoting health.   

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Module 8 - Health Promotion Strategies: Part two

Module eight continues exploring the health promotion strategies for targeting the action areas of the Ottawa Charter.  It covers the third, fourth and fifth (of eight) strategies: self-help/mutual aid, organizational development, and community development and mobilization. The first two strategies were covered in module seven and the final three will be covered in module nine. 

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Module 9 - Health Promotion Strategies: Part three

Module nine explores the last three health promotion strategies for targeting the action areas of the Ottawa Charter. It covers the sixth, seventh and eighth (of eight) strategies: advocacy, policy development, and intersectoral collaboration. Each strategy is discussed in depth, examining underlying theories while also exploring practical steps for carrying them out. The first five strategies were covered in modules seven and eight.

View PDF of this module

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Public Health Ontario wishes to acknowledge and thank THCU staff and many partners who contributed to earlier versions of this document. THCU (originally known as The Health Communication Unit, started in 1993 at the University of Toronto) moved to Public Health Ontario’s Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Department in 2011.


For more information please contact 

Uncontrolled print copy. Valid only on day of Print: [date]
Page updated on [date/time] 2018-07-27 1:28 PM
© , Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion