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Theoretical and empirical base for implementation components of health‐promoting schools

Oddrun Samdal (Department of Health Promotion and Development, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)
Louise Rowling (Faculty of Education, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Article publication date: 30 August 2011




Efforts to create a scientific base for the health‐promoting school approach have so far not articulated a clear “Science of Delivery”. There is thus a need for systematic identification of clearly operationalised implementation components. To address a next step in the refinement of the health‐promoting schools' work, this paper sets out to delineate implementation components of health‐promoting schools and to identify their mechanisms.


The implementation components were identified through a narrative synthesis of documents describing implementation of health‐promoting school approaches. Studies were included if they were published between 1995 and June 2010 and could be identified in publicly accessible peer‐reviewed articles and grey literature, published in English. Eight sources were extracted, representing reports from all continents with the exception of Africa.


Eight components were identified: preparing and planning for school development; policy and institutional anchoring; professional development and learning; leadership and management practices; relational and organisational support context; student participation; partnerships and networking; and sustainability.

Practical implications

The components provide a practical tool/guide for schools to use in the implementation of health‐promoting schools. In a parallel paper theoretically and empirically based practice guidelines for the actual implementation of the components are articulated (“Filling the black box of implementation for health‐promoting schools”, this issue).


The identification of specified theory‐driven implementation components for health‐promoting schools aims will help practitioners to understand the function of each component, so they can execute them with fidelity and thus contribute to rigorous implementation of the health‐promoting school initiative.



Samdal, O. and Rowling, L. (2011), "Theoretical and empirical base for implementation components of health‐promoting schools", Health Education, Vol. 111 No. 5, pp. 367-390.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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