Informed by a community psychology perspective, which takes an integrated and systemic, or holistic view of health and health promotion, this study presents quali-quantitative analysis of health documents, produced by the World Health Organization (WHO) over the last 30 years. Textual analysis facilitated the identification of the typical specificities of international WHO health promotion documents, highlighting the lexical contexts of health promotion, particularly in relation to responsibilities for health and the concept of community health. Further, this textual analysis demonstrated how these understandings of health and health promotion have evolved over the last 30 years. Drawing on theory from within the field of community psychology, the changes proposed throughout international WHO documentation in conceptualizations of health and health promotion and in defining strategies to achieve the stated goals of health promotion are discussed critically. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.