Balancing risk prevention and health promotion: Towards a harmonizing approach in care for older people in the community

Bienke M. Janssen, M.R.F. van Regenmortel, Tineke A. Abma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Many older people in western countries express a desire to live independently and stay in control of their lives for as long as possible in spite of the afflictions that may accompany old age. Consequently, older people require care at home and additional support. In some care situations, tension and ambiguity may arise between professionals and clients whose views on risk prevention or health promotion may differ. Following Antonovsky’s salutogenic framework, different perspectives between professionals and clients on the pathways that lead to health promotion might lead to mechanisms that explain the origin of these tensions and how they may ultimately lead to reduced responsiveness of older clients to engage in care. This is illustrated with a case study of an older woman living in the community, Mrs Jansen, and her health and social care professionals. The study shows that despite good intentions, engagement, clear division of tasks and tailored care, the responsiveness to receive care can indeed not always be taken for granted. We conclude that to harmonize differences in perspectives between professionals and older people, attention should be given to the way older people endow meaning to the demanding circumstances they encounter (comprehensibility), their perceived feelings of control (manageability), as well as their motivation to comprehend and manage events (meaningfulness). Therefore, it is important that both clients and professionals have an open mind and attempt to understand each others’ perspective, and have a dialogue with each other, taking the life narrative of clients into account.
Keywords: Health promotion, Risk prevention, Narratives, Older people, Salutogenesis, Sense of coherence
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-102
JournalHealth Care Analysis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Health promotion
  • Risk prevention
  • Narratives
  • Older people
  • Salutogenesis
  • Sense of coherence


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