Schools that want to implement health promotion (HP) are often confronted with obstacles that they cannot overcome by themselves and therefore need support from their environment. However, the issue of which kind of support is needed for HP implementation is complex. A systems approach suggests that the individual logic of each school be considered and that supporting strategies be flexible to specific needs. This article pursues the question which types of support for health promoting schools are offered on a provincial level in Austria. Using a grounded theory approach, 18 in-depth interviews with representatives of provincial organizations and 26 documents relevant for school HP were analysed. As a result, five different strategies of supporting health promoting schools have been identified in Austria: (i) organize exchange among schools, (ii) establish certification and quality control of school health efforts, (iii) offer consultation and information, (iv) carry out a specific HP programme and (v) coordinate HP actors and information. These strategies are usually combined and rarely occur in their pure form. It was also determined that the coordination of the different strategies and human resources for HP are missing for schools in Austria. It is argued that each of these supporting strategies has benefits and limitations for schools and the providers, and that they all have the potential to respond to the school as a complex social system.
Keywords: school health promotion; capacity building; support; systems
Journal Article. 5478 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology
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