Over the last century, there has been a paradigm shift in theview of public health in America from a focus on preventing disease through healtheducation measures to promoting health and wellness in the communityenvironment such as eliminating health disparities and creating tobacco freeliving.
This shift was brought on by individuals whopromoted changes in their communities after educating and improving the healthof their patients. Some of these peopleincluded religious leaders, medical authorities and government officials. During plaguesand pandemics in the 1700-1900s, people sought help from the churches whichlater became hospitals for delivery of medical care. Some individuals supported this model,including Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science and Dr. John Kellogg, a physician andSeventh Day Adventist. They promoted a healthy lifestyle for wellness andeducated people on disease management.
Phineas Quimby and Mary Baker Eddy saw how their own diseases were madebetter by the actions they took to improve their mindset and diet. (Miller2005). Dr. HalbertDunn taught his patients about “High-LevelWellness” in the 1960s. He laterbecame a national figure, dubbed the Father of The Wellness Movement in partdue to his government position with the U.S. Public Health Service. These early health educators sought toimprove their communities by promoting healthful living lifestyles.
Big businessand government leaders feeling the burden of high healthcare costs sought tosteer public policy from sick populations to healthy populations. The President’s Commission on the HealthNeeds of the Nation was formed in 1951 by President Truman. This was also the time the Magnuson Reportcame out in Canada. These documentsemphasized the personal responsibilities of the individual and helped move thewellness movement away from disease management to disease prevention throughhealth promotions.
Other importantindividuals included Surgeon General, Julius Richmond who issued Healthy People in 1979 (HealthyPeople 1979) and Mr. Donald Ardell, author and director of the University ofCentral Florida’s Wellness Center (O”Donnell 2011). His work influenced suchcompanies as the Madison Wisconsin School District and Sentry Insurance Companyof Wisconsin to develop Workplace Wellness programs to lower the cost ofhealthcare. Today thestrategies of health promotion include common elements with health educationincluding empowering people to make healthy choices by educating them aboutproper nutrition, preventing drug and alcohol abuse through education on thedangers of addiction. The focus hasbroadened to include preventing obesity by promoting active living, preventinginjury by creating safe public environments and violence free living, improvingreproductive and sexual health by passing legislation measures for health insuranceand by expanding quality preventive health services in the communitysetting. The main difference betweenhealth education and health promotion is the core focus from the individualhealth education to the socioeconomic status of the population by making thepursuit of health and wellness the norm.