All health begins at home in the community

Authored by: Emily T.Y. Tse , Ben Y.F. Fong

The Routledge Handbook of Public Health and the Community

Print publication date:  August  2021
Online publication date:  August  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367634193
eBook ISBN: 9781003119111
Adobe ISBN:


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To say that ‘All Health Begins at Home’ is not an exaggeration. As the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’, the associated factors for ‘health’ essentially cover a broad spectrum in all stages and aspects of life. For instance, genetic factors, breastfeeding, parenting, immunisation, home environment, personal hygiene, food safety, family values, behaviours, atmosphere, routines, beliefs towards illnesses and decisions in crisis; all these contribute to an individual’s bio-psycho-social wellbeing in the long run. Some studies have shown that childhood exposure to emotional, physical, sexual abuse and household dysfunction is related to increased risk for negative health outcomes and even a shorter life expectancy. Whilst these findings suggest family protection in childhood and adolescence is very important, the same in young, middle and older adults should not be overlooked. ‘Family’ should be regarded as an essential context for the development of health, including all family members across different stages of the family life cycles. A ‘home’ or ‘family’ should be considered the basic unit of health promotion at the individual and societal levels, a context in community health practice and an essential part of public health policy. In this chapter, we shall see how family-focused interventions can work at the primary, secondary and tertiary prevention levels to safeguard the health of the community. Principles to guide planning and implementation of family engagement programmes are also highlighted. A 4-C Healthy Home Framework is proposed.

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