BOOKS

Health promotion Professional perspectives: second edition Edited by Angela Scriven and Judy Orme Palgrave/the Open University 248 pages£15.99

They say you can't judge a book by the cover, but here is an exception. The cover is contemporary and appealing and so are the contents. Originally published in 1996, the book is now significantly updated and explores current health promotion policy and practice.

The book takes a logical, commonsense look at the often confusing contemporary picture of health promotion policy, highlighting practical implications for health improvement practice within various professional domains.

The new public health agenda calls for the establishment of collaborative partnerships between the various agencies and professional groups which promote health. This text sets out to increase understanding and facilitate joint working between professionals from differing backgrounds and ideologies.

Partnership working is a common theme throughout the book and is presented in some detail.

The book will have relevance to a wide range of professional groups with a remit/potential to promote health and also to students studying to become members of these groups. It is also an excellent read for anyone wanting to understand the key issues and drivers in health promotion today.

Following a general introductory chapter which examines health promotion theory and practice and partnership working, the book is divided into five further sections. These explore the current health agenda within various professional settings - the health service, local authorities, education and youth organisations, the voluntary sector and the workplace.

The health promotion role and the potential of various professional domains is explored, but some areas are covered much more comprehensively (and objectively) than others. The local authority section, for example, is disappointing, covering only the role of environmental health, social services and the promotion of physical activity within the local authority setting.

It only mentions in passing the health-promoting role of housing, transport etc. This is an important opportunity missed, as the potential impact of these departments on health improvement, and particularly health inequalities locally, is significant. However, overall the depth and range of the contributions ensures a comprehensive account of the key issues past and present.

A particularly welcome inclusion is the highlighting of potential pitfalls of various working practices. For example, some of the difficulties of joint working are discussed and strategies for avoiding such problems presented.

Constraints (and opportunities) of national policy initiatives on health promotion practice within various professional domains are also explored.

The professional health promotion perspectives will be particularly relevant and useful to the people working in each respective field. But the insight the text provides into the needs, priorities and constraints encountered by professionals working in other areas may be of even more strategic relevance. This information will undoubtedly facilitate the process of partnership working by identifying areas of common interest.

Looking at the book as a whole, perhaps its most significant recommendation is that it cuts a path through the plethora of current policy initiatives affecting health promotion, and identifies practical, commonsense ways of improving health promotion practice.The book has a great deal to recommend it.