Wednesday, September 23, 2009

American Journal of Health Promotion's new definition of Health Promotion

In the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, the journal's editor in chief, Michael O'Donnel presents his, and the journal's, definition of 'health promotion 2.0: Embracing Passion, Enhancing Motivation, Recognizing Dynamic Balance, and Creating Opportunities'. This 2.0 definition (see below) is rather complex and embracing a very broad range of health aspects, but the deifinition includes a few important messages. First of all the definition 2.0 puts (even) more emphasis on environmental conditions and opportunities for health and health practices, building upon the growing body of evidence linking environmental conditions, such as availability and accessibility of healthy options, to engagement in health behavior, and to the WHO slogan 'Making the healthy choice the easy choice'. The definition certainly also links to the behavioral determinants highlighted in well-known behavioral theories such as the Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory, or Protection Motivation Theory, i.e. the determinants that have been targetted most frequently in health promotion interventions that had health education as the central change strategy. For example, the definition highlights enhancement of awareness, motivation and skills as important goals for health promotion interventions. But the definition explicitely states that creation of environmental opportunities is "most important". There is much circumstancial evidence for the importance of health promoting environments, but there is still a lack of intervention studies showing that creating opportunities that make healthier choices the easiest choices indeed lead to healthier lifestyles.

The full definition of Health Promotion 2.0 proposed by O'Donnel is:
"Health promotion is the art and science of helping people discover the synergies between their core passions and optimal health, enhancing their motivation to strive for optimal health, and supporting them in chnaging their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health. Optimal health is a dynamic balance of physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intelectual health. Lifestyle changes can be facilitated through a combination of learning experiences that enhance awareness, increase motivation, and build skills and, most important, through the creation of opportunities that pen access to environments that make positive health practices the easiest choice."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The A-CaRe kick off meeting

On Friday September 18 the kick off meeting of the A-CaRe (Alpe d’huzes cancer rehabilitation research program) was held in the Amsterdam Olympic stadium. In the conference rook at the Regarz meeting center in the stadium, with a view on the track and field practice going on the Olympic track itself, the A-CaRe program was presented.

A-CaRe is the first research program funded by the special Alpe D’Huzes fund from the Dutch Cancer Society. The Alpe D’Huzes foundation organises events, cycling events in particular, to raise money for caner research to develop evidence-based cancer rehabilitation and patients support programs.

Chaired by the former minister of health Dr. Els Borst, the chair (Coen van Veenendaal) and the ambassador (Peter Kapitein) of the Alpe D’Huzes foundation first presented the foundation and its philosophy mission and vision.

After their inspiring presentations, the three subprograms of A-CaRe were introduced, i.e. a subprogram on scientific research, on implementation preparations and on communication. Subprogram 1, i.e. on scientific research, is coordinated by EMGO+, by Dr. Mai Chin A Paw , Dr. Laurien Buffart, and myself and coordinated b. Two studies have now been started within subprogram 1, a study to study if intensive training or a more extensive active lifestyle works best to improve fatigue, quality of life and return to work among breast and colon cancer patients, after they completed their chemotherapy. on physical training after chemotherapy , and a study to investigate if physical training may improve fatigue and quality of life among children with cancer.

Research infrastructure at the VU University Medical Center

On Thursday 17 September, the directors of the VU University Medical Center’s (VUmc) research institutes (EMGO+, CCA/V-ici, ICarvu, NCA and MOVE) met, joined by VUmc’s experts on data management, knowledge valorisation, research project management. The meeting was led and chaired by the Dean of VUmc, Prof. Wim Stalman, and supported by his staff.

VUmc has made impressive progress in its research accomplishments and output, for example illustrated by its 2nd place in the research rank order based on the ‘CWTS crown indicator’(i.e. a measure of the relative frequency of citations of international scientific research publications) of the Dutch university medical centers. However, this grown and now relative large research output should be supported by an adequate research infrastructure including data-management, biobanking, project management and control, as well as support for valorisation of the research findings.

At the September 17 meeting these issues were discussed and the different topics were further specified and each topic was adopted by one of the participants to translate in a concrete plan for development and inclusions in the upcoming management contracts. This developments should lead to a better basis and support for the continuous research efforts and developments of VUmc.

I pleaded myself to start regarding and treating the main VUmc cohort studies, such as the NESDA study on depression and anxiety disorders, the LASA study on aging and health issues, and the HOORN studies on determinants and effects of diabetes, as part of research infrastructure in stead of mere projects. These cohort studies ensure a continuous output in terms of high ranking and often cited research papers, and university funding for the basis data management and continuation of these studies increases the chances to multiply this initial investment by external acquisition.