Exploring the implementation dynamics of the Health Promoting School approach in Europe: a qualitative study among school health representatives

M. Driessen-Willems*, F. Severens, E. Darlington, N. Bartelink, S. Kremers, P. Van Assema, K. Bessems

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose Adapting the Health Promotion School (HPS) approach to context specifics is acknowledged as being essential for implementation and achieving optimal effectiveness. This study aims to explore implementation variations on seven HPS spectra (such as top-down to bottom-up involvement of stakeholders) on which implementation of the HPS approach can vary, and the factors that relate to navigation on these spectra. Design/methodology/approach In 2020, fourteen HPS researchers and professionals from ten European countries participated in semi-structured interviews. Findings Navigation variations on the HPS spectra occurred throughout most spectra. Further, a tendency was found towards spectrum extremes of addressing multiple core-components, implementing non-disruptive Health Promotion (HP) programmes, and evaluating the HPS approach through an action-oriented research approach. Important general factors were resources, staff capacity and time available to staff members for implementing the HPS approach. Some spectra required more specific factors like organisational skills, leadership or a certain level of democracy. Practical implications The implementation of the HPS approach should be supported by implementation strategies addressing the spectrum-specific factors, but more generic factors such as staff capacity, resources and the level of democracy should also be considered. Originality/value This study explores navigation variations throughout HPS spectra rather than the HPS approach in general. It also nuances implementation diversity across and within different European contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalHealth Education
Issue number1
Early online date1 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2023


  • Education
  • Health Promotion
  • Health Promoting School approach
  • Implementation dynamics
  • Contextual adaptation
  • Interviews


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