This paper aims at critically examining health education practices in the Family Health Program (PSF - Programa de Saúde da Família, Brazil) by building on the assumption that health policies are brought up to date in services by social actors and their everyday actions. The extent to which the principle of integrality is embodied in such practices is investigated, thus contributing to the debate on the grounds and limits of PSF's strategies towards reorienting its model of assistance by focusing on basic care. In the context of current Brazilian health policy, PSF has played a decisive role in building and consolidating the Brazilian Unified Health System (Sistema Único de Saúde - SUS). Health education practices and their underlying sanitary principles are historically reviewed in order to determine the rationale for such practices. The prevailing health education model, shown to be essentially at odds with the principle of integrality, is then characterized and analyzed against an emerging health education model - herein called "dialogic model" - the logic of which would be in accordance with the integrality of care.
Principle of integrality; Family Health Program; health education; care model