APH 2006, 64, 143-158:

Planning for empowerment in health promotion with socio-economically disadvantaged communities: Experiences with a small group approach.

S. Van den Broucke, W. Hennion, N. Vernaillen

Keywords: community empowerment, social inequalities, health promotion, participatory research

Socio-economically disadvantaged people seldom have influence on the decision making processes which affect their health. Health promotion interventions targeted towards these groups should therefore involve a process of empowerment, enabling these persons to increase control over the determinants of their health and to participate in actions that create a health-facilitating social environment.

The present study examines the possibilities to integrate empowerment in the planning for health promotion with underprivileged people, using a participatory approach in small groups. The focus group method was used to perform a community analysis and health needs assessment in collaboration with representatives of four socio-economically deprived communities. A qualitative analysis of the data, consisting of participant observation, narratives and consensus meetings, showed an increased awareness about health issues, participation and sense of control in the participating groups. Based on these results, practical suggestions are offered for health promotion workers to facilitate an empowerment process in the planning for health promotion in underprivileged communities.