Effectiveness of Community-Based Health Promotion Interventions in Urban Areas: A Systematic Review

  • Stefan NickelEmail author
  • Olaf von dem Knesebeck


Over the past few decades, a community-based approach was seen to be the “gold standard” for health promotion and disease prevention, especially in the field of socially deprived neighborhoods in urban areas. Up to the beginning of the 2000s, earlier reviews provide valuable information on activities in this context. However, in their conclusions they were limited to North America and Europe. Therefore, we conducted a systematic literature review on community-based health promotion and prevention programs worldwide. The Pubmed and PsycINFO databases were screened for relevant articles published between January 2002 and December 2018, revealing 101 potentially eligible publications out of 3646 hits. After a systematic review process including searching the reference lists, 32 papers met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Twenty-four (75.0%) articles reported improvements in at least one health behavior, health service access, health literacy, and/or a range of health status outcomes. Large-scale community-based health promotion programs, however, often resulted in limited or missing population-wide changes. Possible reasons are methodological limitations, concurrent context effects, and limitations of the interventions used. Our results confirm that community-based interventions are promising for health promotion and disease prevention but so far their potential is not fully realized. For the future, such interventions should aim at proximal outcomes and invest in community capacity building.


Community-based health promotion Outcome evaluation Neighborhood Urban area 



This work was supported by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Germany (Grant Number: LFF-FV 50).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 26 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 21 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Medical SociologyUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany

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