Section 1
Introduction and Overview


This Learning Pack was originally written by Jane Jones and was first produced in 1997 as part of the “Lothian Training Initiative” – a partnership project involving Lothian Health, the Health Education Board for Scotland (HEBS) and Moray House Institute. It was funded by HEBS.

Following an extensive evaluation of the Initiative in 2000, HEBS (now NHS Health Scotland) funded the establishment of a Training post at CHEX whose primary responsibility was the on-going development of the “Health Issues in the Community” (HIIC) training initiative. This was followed by a full review and re-design of the Learning Pack in 2001 and an extensive development programme across Scotland, which is still continuing. This development has and continues to be overseen by a group of key stakeholders including core partners, core trainers, course tutors and course participants.

The initiative was the subject of further review in 2009 and in 2016 which has led to the creation of this 4th edition of the “Health Issues in the Community” Learning Pack. We would like to thank everyone from the Core Group, the wider tutor group and from CHEX/SCDC who contributed thoughts, ideas or materials to this revised edition.


To enable participants to develop their understanding of the range of factors that affect their health and the health of their communities and to explore how these factors can be addressed using community development approaches.


The core underpinning theme of “Health Issues in the Community” is community development. Although this term can be used to describe many different types of activity, the particular perspective taken here places value on supporting individuals to work collectively, extending participatory democracy, on social justice and equity.

The course:

  • draws on a social model of health which views health and illness as having as much to do with economic and social factors as with individual behaviour.
  • seeks to promote the value of equity in terms of equal access to health, and to counter discrimination on the grounds of age, race, gender, sexuality or physical ability.
  •  supports the right of people to participate in decision-making processes and to take a more active role in the planning and delivery of services.

The guiding principles which have informed the approach include the following:

  • that the life experience and knowledge of course members are recognised as the starting point for analysis and discussion.
  • that one of the basic processes in learning is the opportunity to reflect on our ideas with other people.
  • that it is important for people to develop the skills of critical reflection on the determinants of health and ill-health and about themselves in relation to society.
  • that people should be enabled to participate in the political process as active citizens and helped to acquire the knowledge or confidence needed to do this.
  • that learning can be a creative, fulfilling and enjoyable activity.


The objectives of the learning programme are for participants to:

  • gain a broad understanding of the key topic areas: a social model of health, health inequalities, power and participation and community development approaches to health.
  • develop their knowledge, skills and confidence to apply this learning to their own lives and the lives of their communities.


On completion of HIIC – Part 1 (Health and Society) it is intended that participants will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of a social model of health, other key ideas about health and explain how these models/ ideas relate to their own lives and communities.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the causes of health inequalities and the impact they have on different groups in society.
  • demonstrate a general understanding of community development approaches to tackling health inequalities and how these can be applied.
  • participate effectively in a group process and collect, organise and present information using a variety of methods.
  • reflect on own learning and practice and analyse strengths and weaknesses.