This paper provides a critical look at the challenges facing the field of health promotion. Pointing to the persistence of the disease orientation and the limits of risk factor approaches for conceptualizing and conducting research on health, the salutogenic orientation is presented as a more viable paradigm for health promotion research and practice. The Sense of Coherence framework is offered as a useful theory for taking a salutogenic approach to health research.

Author notes

1 This paper is based on a presentation at the WHO seminar on ‘Theory in Health Promotion: Research and Practice’, Copenhagen, 2–4 September 1992.