Marshall W. Kreuter, PhD

The 1999 DeHaan Lecture was given by

Marshall W. Kreuter, PhD

Opening Remarks by

Dr. Richard M. Levinson

Associate Dean, Academics
Rollins School of Public Health

April 12, 1999
Rollins School of Public Health

Before his return to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January of this year, Marshall Kreuter was president and founder of Health 2000, a public health consulting firm in Atlanta providing technical support and consultation in health promotion program planning and implementation to domestic and international public, private, and voluntary organizations. It was at Health 2000 that he began exploring ways to measure social capital at the community level as a first step in trying to determine whether the presence or absence of social capital may be associated with the effectiveness of community-based interventions.

From 1982 to 1990, Dr. Kreuter served first as the Director of the Division of Health Education and then as Director of the Division of Chronic Disease Control and Community Intervention at CDC. During that time, he and his co-workers refined the epidemiologic study of physical activity, initiated research and programs focused on the early detection of breast cancer, added a greater emphasis on school health, and created the Planned Approach to Community Health (PATCH) - all of these initiatives are now national public health priorities.

Dr. Kreuter received his doctorate from the University of Utah, completed a postdoctoral fellowship at The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, and was awarded an honorary Masters of Public Health from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain. He also holds Adjunct Professorships in the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, and in the School of Health and Human Performance at the University of Georgia. He has authored several books and papers on health promotion and is the recipient of numerous awards, among them the John P. McGovern Medal for distinguished contributions to health education, and the Distinguished Fellow Award, the highest honor awarded by the Society for Public Health Education.

From the Fall 1999 issue of Public Health magazine.

Health disparities through a child's eyes

At the tenth annual Virginia S. DeHaan Lecture on Health Promotion and Education in April, speaker Marshall W. Kreuter used his grandson, Sam, as an illustration. Currently in his "terrible twos," Sam will soon be at the developmental stage where he'll ask, "But why?" And his grandfather, an expert in health promotion, looks forward to that stage "because it opens the opportunity for discovery. When we have the opportunity for discovery," he says, bringing the discussion home to the 150 health professionals gathered for the lecture, "all things are possible -- even closing the gap in health disparity."

Closing that gap is the passion of Kreuter, the associate director for Health Promotion, Policy, and Programs in the Division of Adult and Community Health at the National Center for Chronic Diseases Prevention and Health Promotion. During his career at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), he has overseen the establishment of the Division of Chronic Disease Control and Community Intervention as well as PATCH: the Planned Approach to Community Health -- one of the division's programs that has become a national health priority. In the early 1990s, he founded and served as president of Health 2000, a public health consulting firm. The last several decades of his career have followed great shifts in the emphasis placed on health promotion, evidenced clearly in the titles to three quintessential books he has co-authored: Health Education Planning: A Diagnostic ApproachHealth Promotion Planning: An Environmental and Educational Approach (2nd ed., 1991), and Health Promotion Planning: An Educational and Ecological Approach (3rd ed., 1999). (1980),

"The time is right, plus the technology is right to address the social determinants associated with health disparity," Kreuter told the DeHaan lecture audience. Currently, he is leading a new CDC initiative called REACH: Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health. The program supports research on social factors associated with infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, breast and cervical cancer screening, child and adult immunizations, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

During the lecture, Kreuter listed some of the social factors associated with drug abuse that show why treating the drug problem in isolation provides only a Band-Aid solution. Poverty, social indifference, low self-esteem, hopelessness, indifferent parenting, lack of respect, loss of spiritual values, and adverse childhood events are frequent risk factors for the disease of addiction.

Although Kreuter finds it "embarrassing for a civilized society, a democracy, to have the kinds of disparities we do," he finds it hopeful that today more communities from the federal government to foundations and business are asking the childish question: "but why?"

-- Lorri Preston