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Research note: social catalysts in health promotion implementation
  1. A Rütten1,
  2. K Abu-Omar1,
  3. L Levin2,
  4. A Morgan3,
  5. N Groce2,
  6. J Stuart2
  1. 1
    Institute of Sport Science and Sport, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany
  2. 2
    Yale/WHO Collaborating Center for Health Promotion Policy and Research, Global Health Division, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA
  3. 3
    Centre for Public Health Excellence, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, London, UK
  1. Professor A Rütten, Institute of Sport Science and Sport, Gebbertstr. 123b, 91054 Erlangen, Germany; alfred.ruetten{at}


Recent work carried out by WHO has recognised that an assets based approach to health promotion is crucial to support the promotion of population health and to reduce health inequalities. The assets approach was applied in a project aimed at promoting physical activity among women in difficult life situations. Within the participatory and collaborative work of the project, a specific set of assets for health that might initiate social participation and collaboration in health promotion action emerged. These assets are referred to as social catalysts for health promotion implementation. The article describes empowered individuals, informal social networks, mediating social institutions and organisational structures as potential social catalysts for health promotion implementation, and outlines some directions for further research on this topic.

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  • Competing interests: None.

  • i WHO defines a setting as “the place or social context in which people engage in daily activities in which environmental, organizational and personal factors interact to affect health and wellbeing.[…] Settings can normally be identified by having physical boundaries, a range of people with defined roles, and an organizational structure”.16 All of this holds true for German sports clubs, which generally have their own facilities for physical activity (physical boundaries), staff and members (people with defined roles), and an organisational structure. Overall, about 90 000 sports clubs exist in Germany, and the German Olympic Sports Association is the largest organisation in Germany representing about 27 million members. Sports clubs in Germany are not only related to competitive sports but also offer programmes for health-enhancing physical activities. German sports organisations acknowledge the social function of the sport club and especially their potential for integration of disadvantaged individuals and migrants.

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