Positive Health Iceland

Over the past two years, the Institute for Positive Health (iPH) has been actively inspiring professionals and training participants to implement Positive Health in Iceland. The implementation of Positive Health is taking place in the local community, starting with the social and medical domains. Work is being done simultaneously on the level of the consulting room, practice organisation and the local community. Social workers and two groups of general practitioners in Reykjavík have already been trained, and who are also interested in starting with courses for the general practitioner's training.

(Photo: Institute for Positive Health (iPH))


By first filling in the spiderweb itself, you can explore what the core of the philosophy is. If you skip this step, you will easily miss the point, because without experiencing the effect, you will remain on the outside, just watching patients. Clients will quickly realize if you yourself have lived through what it is all about.


Iceland started with Positive Health because:

  • The need to move from disease-oriented care to the type of care that is focused on health seems the biggest driving force behind the implementation of Positive Health in Iceland.
  • Disease oriented care consists of the fact that diseases often result from problems related to an unhealthy lifestyle.
  • Managing to change people’s mindset to lead a healthier lifestyle will have a positive impact on physical and mental well-being.
  • The Icelandic health care system focuses on diagnoses and how to treat and cure these. That is important but can be overly simplifying and may miss the opportunity to find the answers by looking at the whole person, from a broader perspective.

One of the biggest challenges we face is a growing number of people with chronic and complex problems and we need to further promote and support self care and self management by patients. Elínborg Bárðardóttir is general practitioner and programme director for the primary care training programme at the Development Centre for Primary Healthcare in Iceland (DCPHI). She played a key role as one of the early adaptors to inspire other general practitioners in Iceland: ‘With Positive Health we are moving into the right direction in primary care, with increased sensitivity to finding the right balance between the needs of our patients and the health system that serves them.’

A group of ambassadors of Positive Health in Iceland was formed, with e.g. general practitioner Pétur Heimisson from East Iceland and Guðjón Hauksson (Director HAS,) involved. ‘The knowledge of positive health reached the shores of Iceland in 2018 and sparked the interest of a small number of health care professional.


what has happened so far?

  • From 2018/2019, Karolien van den Brekel and Machteld Huber were invited to Iceland for a few inspirational sessions, such as the annual Icelandic Medical Association conference.
  • After that training Programs ambassadors meetings and Train the Trainer Program for Positive Health in Iceland were facilitated for further support and embedment of Positive Health.
  • Since January 2023 eight local Positive Health trainers got certified by Positive Health international (PHi) in Iceland. In collaboration with PHi the trainers can facilitate training and lectures since they connect with the local communities and existing infrastructure.
  • Elínborg sees good possibilities to connect Positive Health ideas to existing activities and initiatives in Iceland: ‘We are implementing wellness clinics to promote salutogenesis and empowering primary care and Positive Health. The spider web fits right in there as one of our new methods and is supported at all levels by our governing institutions.’
  • In the nearest future there are also chances to introduce and implement Positive Health in schools as well as in social services and occupational rehabilitation. Connecting to existing programs, such as the use of the Positive Health children’s tool, may provide synergy with the already successful prevention program for the Icelandic youth.

Implementing a new approach to health care will take some time. The idea of Positive Health has laid down strong roots in Iceland, and now it is time to nurture these roots to build a strong and stable Positive Health tree.


Ordering handbook

Handbook ‘Positive Health’ now available for ordering

Contact us

East Iceland, Guðjón Hauksson

Reykjavik area: Elinborg Bárðardóttir


Positive Health - Iceland