9th Nordic Health Promotion Research Conference

Health: Societal responsibility or individual obligation?


Addressing sustainable health promotion in theory and practice


Venue: Roskilde University, Roskilde, Denmark.

Dates: 12. 13. & 14. June 2019. Start lunch time / end Lunch time


Confirmed keynote speakers:

Professor Dennis Raphael, York University, Canada

Professor Elisabeth Fosse, University of Bergen, Norway

Professor Betina Dybbroe, Roskilde University, Denmark

Professor Heikki Hiilamo, University of Helsinki, Finland

Associate Professor Malin Eriksson, Umeå University, Sweden

Associate Professor Kristian Delica, Roskilde University, Denmark
Associate Professor Toba Bryant, University of Ontario, Canada


Conference Theme:


The WHO Constitution enshrines that the highest attainable standard of health is a fundamental right of every human being. Likewise concepts of social justice, equity and sustainability have been key words in health promotion and the foci for health promotion research since the launching of the Ottowa Charter.

Whether researcher or professional in the field of health promotion these ideals can today seem challenged. The Nordic countries have not reached equity in health and in some countries inequality is even rising. The numbers of citizens suffering from Non-Communicable Diseases and multi-morbidity constitute distressing evidence that conditions which allow the attainment of health by all the members of our societies have not been created.


In spite of mutual differences, Nordic countries all face changes in public health promotion strategies towards greater individual responsibility and risk orientation. Responsibility for prevention, treatment, care and rehabilitation are increasingly shifted from the welfare state on to the citizens themselves. To a growing extent living a healthy life at the same time turns into a personal obligation. Changes in the roles of the welfare state open for involvement of NGO´s, promoting of health in local communities and aim at involving users of health care in new ways. These processes can be investigated as an opportunity for democratization and citizens' empowerment over their own health, but at the same time they potentially create unprecedented forms of inequity and marginalization. Similarly policy orientation towards risks and risk-taking as an expression of individual “life-style” choices moves away attention from the distribution of burdens and resources in individual life courses and in societies, as well as away from global health challenges regarding environment, climate, technology, production and demography; changes many of which are essentially man-made, but out of individual control.

Further on new forms of inequity and marginalization follow the change of health institutions. Welfare institutions become centered in metropolitan areas, enhancing the disadvantage of outskirt areas, where health in general is poor; but simultaneously supporting specialized expertise within institutions. New organizational forms, decentralization connected to goal management as well as welfare technologies are introduced, forming new contexts and roles for professionals and citizens. New public management seems to give rise to a schism between the potential effectiveness of standardization and a resource oriented, holistic and humanistic approach to health and disease.


These developments re-actualize the classical and highly relevant Health Promotion issues; equity, sustainability and social justice in health. In addition new themes become relevant for critical health promotion research. The performance of health increasingly constitutes a framework for social distinction. Concepts of "healthism", "medicalisation" and “patologizing” of our lives and as a basis for population policy describe an awareness of potential backlash´ embedded in contemporary societies´ preoccupation with health.


These dilemmas pose challenges to critical health promotion research. The 9th Nordic Health Promotion Research Conference addresses the question of how we as researchers are able to investigate and theorize the changing contexts for health promotion and the normativity’s intertwined with late-modern interests in health. How can we understand the duality of health as on the one hand a basic human right, a fundamental resource for living, as well as a precondition for societal cohesion and development, and on the other hand as increasingly becoming a civic obligation left for the individual to fulfill?

The assumption that health may be understood as a simultaneously societal, bodily as well as biological reality, subjectively experienced, objectively measured and socially constructed leads to a need for discussions of what health promotion is and can be in the future. It questions available theories and calls for in-depth reflections on how to engage with sustainable health promotion in theory, as researchers and in practice. Speakers and presenters at The 9th Nordic Health Promotion Research Conference are encouraged to address the conference theme from both empirical and theoretical angles providing a creative space for such reflections. 




Roskilde Universitet - Universitetsvej 1 - 4000 - Roskilde - 4674 2808 - ninthnordic@ruc.dk