Vol 68, No 2 (2017)
Published online: 2017-06-27

open access

Page views 2190
Article views/downloads 3147
Get Citation

Connect on Social Media

Connect on Social Media

The design of health promotion strategies for seafarers

Tim Carter1, Kimberly Karlshoej2
Pubmed: 28660613
IMH 2017;68(2):102-107.


Health promoting interventions among seafarers have, to date, been limited in scope and their effectiveness is questionable. There is good knowledge base from a wide range of onshore settings that indicates how best to structure health promotion initiatives in ways that are accepted by those affected by them and where their effectiveness has been fully evaluated. Here we identify the main lessons to be learnt from experience in other sectors and note the special features of the settings in which seafarers live and work as the basis for strategic development. The history of health promoting initiatives in seafarers is also summarised. The aim of this review is to foster debate about the best means to formulate seafarer health promotion initiatives and to introduce them in such ways that their effectiveness can be evaluated. The review has its origins as a scoping document for a strategic review of seafarer health promotion supported by the Seafarers’ Trust.


  1. Seafarers’ Health Information Programme, International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network. http://seafarerswelfare.org/what-we-do/projects/ship (accessed 20 January 2017).
  2. Healthy Living at Sea, Videotel. Release in 2017. This is a series of ten vidoes covering different aspects of seafarer health. http://videotel.com (Videotel home page, accessed 20 January 2017).
  3. ITF Seafarers Trust. http://www.seafarerstrust.org (accessed 20 January 2017).
  4. The Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in a Globalized World. www.who.int (accessed 3 November 2015).
  5. Davies M, Macdowall W. (Editors). Health Promotion Theory. OUP, Maidenhead 2006.
  6. Macdowall W. (Editors). Health Promotion Practice. OUP, Maidenhead 2006.
  7. Macdowall W. Personal communication 2016.
  8. Leach H. The Ship Captain’s Medical Guide. 2nd Edition. Simkin Marshall, London 1868: 7–8.
  9. Carter T. Merchant Seamen’s Health 1860-1960: medicine, technology, shipowners and the state in Britain. Woodbridge, Boydell Press. 2014. pp. 68-77. Note: information on other historical aspects of seafarer health promotion in UK can be found in this book.
  10. Training on Board. International Seafarers’ Welfare and Assistance Network . http://seafarerswelfare.org/what-we-do/projects/training-on-board (accessed 20 January 2017).
  11. Guidelines on the medical examinations of seafarers. International Labour Office, International Maritime Organization. Geneva: ILO, 2013. p.21.
  12. Carter T. Mapping the knowledge base for maritime health: 3 illness and injury in seafarers. Int Marit Health. 2011; 62(4): 224–240.