Study objective: The aim of this paper is to synthesise empirical findings on the salutogenic concept sense of coherence (SOC) and examine its capacity to explain health and its dimensions.
Design: The study is descriptive and analytical with a systematic integration of the contemporary knowledge base on the salutogenic research published 1992–2003. The review includes 458 scientific publications and 13 doctoral theses.
Setting: Worldwide, based on postgraduate scientific publications in eight authorised databases, doctoral theses, and available books.
Main results: SOC is strongly related to perceived health, especially mental health. The stronger the SOC the better the perceived health in general, at least for those with an initial high SOC. This relation is manifested in study populations regardless of age, sex, ethnicity, nationality, and study design. SOC seems to have a main, moderating or mediating role in the explanation of health. Furthermore, the SOC seems to be able to predict health. SOC is an important contributor for the development and maintenance of people’s health but does not alone explain the overall health.
Conclusion: SOC seems to be a health promoting resource, which strengthens resilience and develops a positive subjective state of health. Salutogenesis is a valuable approach for health promotion and would be worth to implement in practice much more than to date.
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Funding: this study was supported by grants from the European Commission (European Masters in Health Promotion (EUMAHP) and Folkhälsan Research Centre/Health Promotion Programme.
Conflicts of interest: none declared.
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