Development of health promoting leadership – experiences of a training programme

Andrea Eriksson (Nordic School of Public Health, Göteborg, Sweden)
Runo Axelsson (Nordic School of Public Health, Göteborg, Sweden)
Susanna Bihari Axelsson (Nordic School of Public Health, Göteborg, Sweden)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Publication date: 23 February 2010



The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyse the experiences of an intervention programme for development of health promoting leadership in Gothenburg in Sweden. The more specific purpose is to identify critical aspects of such a programme as part of the development of a health promoting workplace.


A programme supporting managers in health promoting leadership was studied. The study was performed as a holistic case study design. In total, 17 semi‐structured interviews were conducted, supplemented with data from a leadership survey. The material was coded according to the principles of content analysis, resulting in the three main categories: comprehensiveness, integration and participation.


The results show the importance of regarding the development of health promoting leadership as a contribution to the building of organisational capacity for health promoting workplaces. This requires a comprehensive approach, including both individual and structural aspects, as well as an integration of programme ideas into the practice of management. Moreover, a wide participation in the planning and design of the programme is desirable. The concrete outcomes of this programme were action plans for workplace health promotion developed during the programme. For the participating managers a positive part of the programme was also the possibilities for reflecting and sharing experiences.


This study contributes knowledge and experiences that can be applied in the development of health promoting leadership. There is, however, a need for clearer health promoting goals and sub‐goals in order to assess the health outcomes of such a leadership programme.



Eriksson, A., Axelsson, R. and Bihari Axelsson, S. (2010), "Development of health promoting leadership – experiences of a training programme", Health Education, Vol. 110 No. 2, pp. 109-124.

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