Skip to main content


Log in

A Nationally Coordinated Health Promotion Program for the Elderly in a Federal State, Switzerland

  • Published:
Journal of Population Ageing Aims and scope Submit manuscript


In a federal state like Switzerland, where health policies are the responsibility of local, regional and federal authorities, implementing a nationally coordinated health promotion program is a political and logistic challenge. The VIA project, presented hereafter, is one of the rare health promotion projects to be coordinated at the national level in Switzerland. Its aim is to promote the health of older people, a population which is heavily affected by chronic diseases. Indeed, in the group aged 65–79 years living at home, 28.8% suffer from one and 25.2% from several chronic diseases; in the over-80 age group, the proportions are 29.6% and 41.3%. The VIA project, a multi-year project, tackles specific issues known to affect the health of the elderly, such as fall prevention, promotion of physical activity and healthy eating as well as social integration through supporting local stakeholders with theoretical knowledge, practical know-how and facilitating networking among various stakeholders. The coordination work was considered useful by most local program-managers: especially considered as useful were network encounters and exchange of experiences among professionals.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.


  • Alves, J., Peralta, S., & Perelman, J. (2013). Efficiency and equity consequences of decentralization in health: An economic perspective. Revista Portuguesa de Saúde Pública, 31(1), 74–83.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bachmann, N., Burla, L., & Kohler, D. (2015). La santé en Suisse – Le point sur les maladies chroniques. Neuchâtel: Observatoire Suisse de la Santé.

    Google Scholar 

  • BFS. (2014). Gesundheitsstatistik 2014 [Health statistics 2014]. Neuchâtel: Bundesamt für Statistik.

    Google Scholar 

  • BFS. (2017). Statistisches Jahrbuch der Schweiz 2017 [Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland 2017]. Neuchâtel: Bundesamt für Statistik.

    Google Scholar 

  • BFS (2018) Dauerhaftes Gesundheitsproblem nach Alter, Geschlecht, Sprachgebiet, Bildungsniveau [Chronic health problem by age, sex, language area, education level]. Available at (Accessed: February 2, 2018).

  • Biedermann, A., Ackermann, G., & Steinmann, R. M. (2014). Via: ein interkantonales Projekt zur Gesundheitsförderung im Alter. Projektabschlussbericht 2010–2013 [Via: an intercantonal project for health promotion in old age. Final Project Report 2010–2013]. Bern and Lausanne: Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bopp, M., & Minder, C. (2003). Mortality by education in German speaking Switzerland, 1990–1997: Results from the Swiss National Cohort. International Journal of Epidemiology, 32, 346–354.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bundesvereinigung Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung e.V. (2008) Präventionsziele für die zweite Lebenshälfte [Prevention goals for the second half of life]. (Accessed: February 19, 2018).

  • Bürli, C., Amstad, F., Duetz Schmucki, M., & Schibli, D. (2015). Psychische Gesundheit in der Schweiz – Bestandsaufnahme und Handlungsfelder [Mental health in Switzerland – inventory and fields of action]. Bern: Bundesamt für Gesundheit.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chastonay, P., Simos, J., Cantoreggi, N., & Mattig, T. (2017). Health policy challenges in a decentralized federal state: The situation in Switzerland. ARC Journal of Public Health and Community Medicine, 2(1), 1–5.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cornwell, E. Y., & Waite, L. J. (2009). Social disconnectedness, perceived isolation, and health among older adults. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 50, 31–48.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cotter, S. (2005) Le vieillissement démographique de la Suisse [Demographic ageing of Switzerland]. Available at (Accessed: December 1, 2017).

  • Cotter, S. (2016) Survol de 100 ans de démographie suisse [Overview of 100 years of Swiss demography]. Available at (Accessed: December 1, 2017).

  • De Pietro, C., Camenzind, P., Sturny, I., Crivelli, L., Edwards-Garavoglia, S., Spranger, A., Wittenbecher, F., & Quentin, W. (2015). Switzerland: Health system review. Health Systems in Transition, 17(4), 1–288.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dellenbach, M., Angst, S. (2011) Förderung der psychischen Gesundheit im Alter. Bericht Teilprojekt im Rahmen des Projekts “Best Practice Gesundheitsförderun im Alter” [Promotion of mental health in the elderly. Report in the context of the project “Best Practice Health Promotion for the Elderly”]. Bern: Promotion Santé Suisse.

  • Dickens, A. P., Richards, S. H., Greaves, C. J., & Campbell, J. L. (2011). Interventions targeting social isolation in older people: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 11, 647.

    Google Scholar 

  • Enderli, S., Käch, S., Lorber, C., & Sandmeier, H. (2017). Santé publique en Suisse [Public health in Switzerland]. Basel: Interpharma.

    Google Scholar 

  • Feller-Länzlinger, R., La Mantia, A., Künzi, K., & Egger, T. (2014). Via – Best Practice Gesundheitsförderung im Alter: Evaluation 2011–2013. Arbeitspapier 18 [Via – Best Practice health promotion in old age. Evaluation 2011–2013. Working paper 18]. Bern and Lausanne: Gesundheitsförderung Schweiz.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fratiglioni, L., Wang, H. X., Ericsson, K., Maytan, M., & Winblad, B. (2000). Influence of social network on occurrence of dementia: A community-based longitudinal study. Lancet, 355, 1315–1319.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grimaldi, C. (2015) Evolution de la population suisse, des taux démographiques et de la répartition par âges aux XXe et XXIe s. [Evolution of the Swiss population, demographic rates and age distribution in the 20th and 21st centuries]. Available at (Accessed: December 1, 2017).

  • Gschwind, Y. J., & Pfenniger, B. (2013). Training zur Sturzprävention- Manual für Kraft- und Gleichgewichts training zur Sturtzprävention im Alter [Fall Prevention Training Manual for Strength and Balance Training for Fall Prevention in Old Age]. Bern: bfu.

    Google Scholar 

  • Huber, M., Knottnerus, J. A., Green, L., Van der Horst, H., Jadad, A. R., Kromhout, D., & Smid, H. (2011). How should we define health? BMJ, 343, d4163.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kessler, D., Bonsach, S., Seematter, L., Biedermann, A. (2009) Gesundheitsfoerderung im Alter. Synthese von Interviews mit ExpertInnen in der Schweiz unde einer auf diesen Interviews basierenden Litertaturanalyse. Gesundheitsfoerderung Schweiz, Bern.

  • Klibanoff, P., & Morduch, J. (1995). Decentralization, externalities, and efficiency. The Review of Economic Studies, 62(2), 223–247.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kruse, A. (2014). Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung im hohen Alter [Prevention and health promotion in old age]. In K. Hurrelmann, T. Klotz, & J. Haisch (Eds.), Lehrbuch Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung [Textbook Prevention and Health Promotion] (4th ed., pp. 89–99). Bern: Hans Huber.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lis, K., Reichert, M., Cosack, A., Billings, J. & Brown, P. (Ed.) (2008). Evidence-based guidelines on health promotion for older people. Austrian Red Cross, Vienna.

  • Lund, R., Nilsson, C. J., & Avlund, K. (2010). Can the higher risk of disability onset among older people who live alone be alleviated by strong social relations? A longitudinal study of non-disabled men and women. Age and Ageing, 39, 319–326.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mattig, T. (2015). Promotion Santé Suisse: Un acteur oeuvrant pour la santé de la population [Health Promotion Switzerland: An actor working for the health of the population]. Infosantésuisse, 20(4/5), 8–9.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mattig, T., & Chastonay, P. (2017). Switzerland’s national non-communicable diseases strategy. Annals of Chronic Diseases, 2(1), 1–5.

    Google Scholar 

  • Menthonnex, J. (2015). Estimation des durées de vie par génération. Evolution 1900–2150 et tables de mortalité par génération 1900–2030 pour la Suisse [Estimation of life span by generation. Evolution 1900–2150 and life tables by generation 1900–2030 for Switzerland]. Neuchâtel: Office fédéral de la statistique.

    Google Scholar 

  • Milte, C. M., & McNaughton, S. A. (2016). Dietary patterns and successful ageing: A systematic review. European Journal of Nutrition, 55, 423–450.

    Google Scholar 

  • OECD/WHO. (2011). OECD reviews of health systems: Switzerland 2011. OECD Publishing.

  • OFSP. (2012). Strategie alimentaire suissse 2013-2016 [Swiss nutrition strategy 2013-2016]. Bern: Office Fédéral de la Santé Publique.

    Google Scholar 

  • Promotion Santé Suisse. (2014). La promotion de la santé des personnes âgées – de réels bénéfices: le projet via [Promoting the health of the elderly – real benefits: The via project]. Bern: Promotion Santé Suisse.

    Google Scholar 

  • Promotion Santé Suisse. (2016). Programmes d’action cantonaux [Cantonal Action Programs]. Rapport de gestion 2015. Bern: Promotion Santé Suisse.

    Google Scholar 

  • Promotion Santé Suisse. (2017). Rapport de gestion 2016. Bern: Promotion Santé Suisse.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reiner, M., Niermann, C., Jekauc, D., & Woll, A. (2013). Long term health benefits of physical activity – A systematic review of longitudinal studies. BMC Public Health, 13, 813.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schmidt, C. (2004). The analysis of semi-structured interviews. In U. Flick, E. von Kardoff, & I. Steinke (Eds.), A companion to qualitative research (pp. 253–258). London: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Schweizerischer Bundesrat. (2012). Entwicklungsszenarien für das Gesundheitswesen. In Legislaturfinanzplan 2013–2015: Anhang zur Botschaft über die Legislaturplanung 2011–2015. Bern: Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tricco, A. C., Thomas, S. M., Veroniki, A. A., Hamid, J. S., Cogo, E., Strifler, L., Khan, P. A., Robson, R., Sibley, K. M., MacDonald, H., Riva, J. J., Thavorn, K., Wilson, C., Holroyd-Leduc, J., Kerr, G. D., Feldman, F., Majumdar, S. R., Jaglal, S. B., Hui, W., & Straus, S. E. (2017). Comparisons of interventions for preventing falls in older adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA, 318(17), 1687–1699.

    Google Scholar 

  • Vuilleumier, M., Pellegrini, S., & Jeanrenaud, C. (2007). Déterminants et évolution des coûts du système de santé en Suisse. Revue de la littérature et projections à l’horizon 2030 [Determinants and evolution of the costs of the health system in Switzerland. Review of the literature and projections to 2030]. Neuchâtel: Office fédéral de la statistique.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weaver, F., Jaccard Ruedin, H., Pellegrini, S., & Jeanrenaud, C. (2008). Les coûts des soins de longue durée d’ici à 2030 en Suisse [The costs of long-term care up to 2030 in Switzerland]. Neuchâtel: Observatoire Suisse de la Santé.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weber, D., Abel, B., Ackermann, G., Biedermann, A., Bürgi, F., Kessler, C., Schneider, J., Steinmann, R. M., & Widmer Howald, F. (2016). Gesundheit und Lebensqualität im Alter. Grundlagen für kantonale Aktionsprogramme «Gesundheitsförderung im Alter» [Health and quality of life in old age. Scientific basis for cantonal action programs “Health promotion in old age”]. Berne and Lausanne: Health Promotion Switzerland.

    Google Scholar 

  • WHO. (2015). World report on ageing and health. Geneva: World Health Organization.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wight, N., Laubereau, B., Feller-Länzlinger, R. (2015) Evaluation de Via 2015. Enseignements et recommandations en ce qui concerne l’élaboration d’un programme d’action cantonal de promotion de la santé des personnes âgées. [Evaluation of Via 2015. Lessons and recommendations for the development of a cantonal action program for the promotion of the health of the elderly]. Berne and Lausanne: Promotion Santé Suisse.

  • Zubala, A., Mac Gillivray, A., Frost, H., Kroll, T., Skelton, D. A., Gavine, A., Gray, N. M., Toma, M., & Morris, J. (2017). Promotion of physical activity interventions for community dwelling older adults: A systematic review of reviews. PLoS One, 12(7), e018090.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Philippe Chastonay.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Chastonay, P., Weber, D. & Mattig, T. A Nationally Coordinated Health Promotion Program for the Elderly in a Federal State, Switzerland. Population Ageing 13, 401–414 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: