Operative Links: The Importance of Combining Perspectives in Municipal Strategies Aimed at Children’s and Adolescents’ Health

Karen Wistoft, Holger Højlund

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Aim: The subject of investigation is the ways in which the Danish municipalities organize prevention and health-promotion efforts for children and adolescents. The aim is to examine how health managerial ideas have been combined with health professional ideals concerning different health educational approaches.
Methods: Mixed qualitative design: survey based on telephone interviews with health managers (n=72), personal and focus group interviews with health professionals (n=84) and pupils (n=108) from 18 school classes, and comparative case studies in five selected municipalities of various size and geographical location. The theoretical framework has three positions combining a public management perspective with a pedagogical perspective on health promotion.
Results: The municipalities give high priority to prevention and health promotion directed toward children and adolescents and face a number of challenges at the management, collaboration, and knowledge levels. Missing links is one of the main points. Health managers and health professionals are preoccupied with some educational consequences of the health interventions, but they do not focus to the same extent on explicit health educational goals, learning content, or value clarification. Health pedagogy is often a matter of retrospective rationalization rather than the starting point of planning. Health and risk behaviour approaches override health educational approaches.
Conclusions: Operational links between health education, health professionalism, and management strategies pose the foremost challenge. Operational links indicates cooperative levels that facilitate a creative and innovative effort across traditional professional boundaries. It is proposed that such links are supported by network structures, shared semantics, and situated pedagogical means of intervention.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)348-354
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Children and Adolescents
  • Cooperative Health Strategies
  • Health Education
  • Health Promotion
  • Pedagogy
  • Prevention
  • Public Health Management

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