Sustainable development goals for health promotion: A critical frame analysis

Grace Spencer*, J. Hope Corbin, Esther Miedema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lay the foundations for supporting global health and international development work for the next 15 years. Thirty years ago, the Ottawa Charter defined health promotion and outlined key principles for global action on health, including the importance of advocating, enabling and mediating for health equity. Advocacy underscores a human right to health and suggests political action to support its attainment. Enabling speaks to health promotion's focus on the empowerment of people and communities to take control over their health and aspirations. Mediation draws attention to the critical intersectoral partnerships required to address health and social inequities. Underpinned by this approach, the aim of this paper is to consider how key health promotion principles, namely, rights, empowerment and partnership feature (and are framed) within the SDGs and to consider how these framings may shape future directions for health promotion. To that end, a critical frame analysis of the Transforming Our World document was conducted. The analysis interrogated varying uses and meanings of partnerships, empowerment and rights (and their connections) within the SDGs. The analysis here presents three framings from the SDGs: (1) a moral code for global action on (in)equity; (2) a future orientation to address global issues yet devoid of history; and (3) a reductionist framing of health as the absence of disease. These framings raise important questions about the underpinning values of the SDGs and pathways to health equity-offering both challenges and opportunities for defining the nature and scope of health promotion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)847-858
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • empowerment
  • global health
  • partnerships
  • rights
  • sustainable development goals


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