6 Glossary


Assets are the skills, talents and capacity that individuals, associations and organisations can share to improve the life of a community. An assets approach focuses on the strengths rather than the weaknesses (or deficiencies) found in groups or communities.


For the purposes of this guidance, communities are defined as social or family groups linked by networks, geographical location or another common factor.

Determinants of health

The wide range of personal, social, economic and environmental factors which determine the health status of people or communities. These include health behaviours and lifestyles, income, education, employment, working conditions, access to health services, housing and living conditions and the wider general material and social environment.

Health inequalities

The gap or gradient in health, usually measured by mortality and morbidity, between population groups identified by social characteristics, including different social classes, ethnic groups, wealth and income groups, genders, educational groups, housing and geographical areas.


Clearly circumscribed actions that help promote or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Life course

The life course is a term used in social epidemiology to describe the accumulation of material, social and biological advantages and disadvantages during a lifetime.


The aggregate of individuals defined by membership of a social, geographic, political or economic unit (for example, members of a state, a region, a city or a cultural group).


Multi-agency, multi-packages and/or a series of related policies, services and interventions or other actions focused on broad strategic issues. They can involve a suite of activities that may be topic, setting or population based – and may involve changes to organisational infrastructures.

Promoting and supporting behaviour change

A number of terms are used to describe attempts to promote or support behaviour change and sometimes these are used interchangeably. They include: initiative, scheme, action, activity, campaign, policy, strategy, procedure, programme, intervention and project.


The ability to withstand or even respond positively to stressors, crises or difficulties.


Self-efficacy is a person's estimate or personal judgment of his or her own ability to succeed in reaching a specific goal.

Social capital

Social capital is commonly defined as those features of a society, such as networks, social trust and cohesion, that facilitate cooperation among people for mutual benefit.

Socioeconomic status

A person's position in society, as determined by criteria such as income, level of education achieved, occupation and value of property owned.

Transition points

Points of change during a lifetime or the life course (for a definition of life course, see above). Examples include: leaving school, entering or leaving a significant relationship, starting work, becoming a parent or retiring from work.