Strengthening individual and community capacity to prevent disease and promote health: in search of relevant theories and principles.
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The dominant theoretical models used in health education today are based in social psychology. While these theories have increasingly acknowledged the role of larger social and cultural influences in health behavior, they have many limitations. Theories seek to explain the causes of health problems, whereas principles of practice, which are derived from practical experience, assist intervenors to achieve their objectives. By elucidating the relationships between theory and practice principles, it may be possible to develop more coherent and effective interventions. The key research agenda for health education is to link theories at different levels of analysis and to create theory-driven models that can be used to plan more effective interventions in the complex environments in which health educators work.