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Ciência & Saúde Coletiva

On-line version ISSN 1678-4561Print version ISSN 1413-8123


POTVIN, Louise. On the nature of programs: health promotion programs as action. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2004, vol.9, n.3, pp.731-738. ISSN 1678-4561.

Assuming that sound methodological indications regarding the evaluation of health promotion programs should be rooted in a critical reflection on the nature of health promotion programs, this paper reviews two traditional ontological perspectives at the basis of most scientific activity. While empirical realism conceptualises programs as natural objects, idealism and relativism strictly confine programs in the realm of representations and models. Both ontological perspectives however are unsatisfying for health promotion programs. It is suggested that critical realism which proposes a three-layer ontology offers a better framework for conceiving health promotion programs. In this ontology, the nature of programs lies in actions undertaken to create the conditions by which social causal mechanisms are triggered. Ultimately locating programs in the realm of practice.

Keywords : Health promotion program; Ontology; Critical realism.

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