In this article, I will be taking you through everything you need to know about health education. So, stay with me while I break it down for you!
You might be thinking, what does health education have to do with me but I must tell you that you will find this post interesting and remember no knowledge is wasteful!
So, let’s get started! What is Health Education?
What is Health Education
Health education is one strategy for implementing health promotion and disease prevention programs. It provides learning experiences on health topics. Health education strategies are tailored for their target population. It presents information to target populations on particular health topics, including the health benefits/threats they face, and provides tools to build capacity and support behavior change in an appropriate setting.
Examples of health education activities include:
Characteristics of health education strategies
The following are the characteristics of health education strategies;
- Participation of the target population.
- Completion of a community needs assessment to identify community capacity, resources, priorities, and needs.
- Planned learning activities that increase participants’ knowledge and skills.
- Implementation of programs with integrated, well-planned curricula and materials that take place in a setting convenient for participants.
- Presentation of information with audiovisual and computer based supports such as slides and projectors, videos, books, CDs, posters, pictures, websites, or software programs.
- Ensuring proficiency of program staff, through training, to maintain fidelity to the program model.
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Examples of Health Education Interventions
- The Oral Health Outreach Program, implemented by the Eastern Shore Area Health Education Center (AHEC), provides dental education and outreach to children.
- SLV N.E.E.D. (Naloxone Education Empowerment Distribution Program), implemented by the San Luis Valley Area Health Education Center (SLVAHEC) provided educational sessions to providers and community stakeholders on addressing opioid abuse.
- Community health workers (CHWs) may deliver health education to the target population. Examples of how CHWs support health education interventions are available in the Community Health Workers Toolkit.
- Health education is also used in care coordination to address barriers to care. A health educator is one type of care coordinator who delivers education to individuals, families, and communities. Additional information is available in the Rural Care Coordination Toolkit.
Considerations for Implementation
Health education activities should enhance the overall goal of the health promotion and disease prevention program. Materials developed for health education programs must be culturally appropriate and tailored to the target populations to ensure cultural competence. In rural communities, this means addressing cultural and linguistic differences, and addressing potential barriers to health promotion and disease prevention in rural areas.
A Framework for Educating Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health
The World Health Organization defines the social determinants of health as “the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” These forces and systems include economic policies, development agendas, cultural and social norms, social policies, and political systems. In an era of pronounced human migration, changing demographics, and growing financial gaps between rich and poor, a fundamental understanding of how the conditions and circumstances in which individuals and populations exist affect mental and physical health is imperative. Educating health professionals about the social determinants of health generates awareness among those professionals about the potential root causes of ill health and the importance of addressing them in and with communities, contributing to more effective strategies for improving health and health care for underserved individuals, communities, and populations.
Recently, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop to develop a high-level framework for such health professional education. A Framework for Educating Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health also puts forth a conceptual model for the framework’s use with the goal of helping stakeholder groups envision ways in which organizations, education, and communities can come together to address health inequalities.
Characteristics of an Effective Curriculum
Today’s state-of-the-art health education curricula reflect the growing body of research that emphasizes:
- Teaching functional health information (essential knowledge).
- Shaping personal values and beliefs that support healthy behaviors.
- Shaping group norms that value a healthy lifestyle.
- Developing the essential health skills necessary to adopt, practice, and maintain health-enhancing behaviors.
Less effective curricula often overemphasize teaching scientific facts and increasing student knowledge. An effective health education curriculum has the following characteristics, according to reviews of effective programs and curricula and experts in the field of health education
Nutrition-Related Policy and Environmental Strategies to Prevent Obesity in Rural Communities: A Systematic Review of the Literature, 2002-2013 | Health Education
Residents of rural communities in the United States are at higher risk for obesity than their urban and suburban counterparts. Policy and environmental-change strategies supporting healthier dietary intake can prevent obesity and promote health equity. Evidence in support of these strategies is based largely on urban and suburban studies; little is known about use of these strategies in rural communities. The purpose of this review was to synthesize available evidence on the adaptation, implementation, and effectiveness of policy and environmental obesity-prevention strategies in rural settings.
The review was guided by a list of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Recommended Community Strategies and Measurements to Prevent Obesity in the United States, commonly known as the “COCOMO” strategies. We searched PubMed, Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, Public Affairs Information Service, and Cochrane databases for articles published from 2002 through 2013 that reported findings from research on nutrition-related policy and environmental strategies in rural communities in the United States and Canada. Two researchers independently abstracted data from each article, and resolved discrepancies by consensus.
Of the 663 articles retrieved, 33 met inclusion criteria. The interventions most commonly focused on increasing access to more nutritious foods and beverages or decreasing access to less nutritious options. Rural adaptations included accommodating distance to food sources, tailoring to local food cultures, and building community partnerships.
Conclusion on Nutrition-Related Policy and Environmental Strategies to Prevent Obesity in Rural Communities
Findings from this literature review provide guidance on adapting and implementing policy and environmental strategies in rural communities.
What Works for Health: Education Strategies Added
Education is one of the key factors that can make communities healthier places to live, learn, work, and play – but when we try to improve education, what works? To help communities tackling this question, we added four new strategies to What Works for Health (WWFH).
Three of these strategies are rated Scientifically Supported, the highest of WWFH’s six evidence ratings:
- Enhance instruction with educational technology. Incorporating technology like computer programs and interactive whiteboards into traditional instruction helps kids learn more in reading and math.
- Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). In low income areas, KIPP charter schools improve kids’ reading and math scores more than typical traditional public schools.
- Summer learning programs. Summer learning programs help kids catch up or get ahead in reading and math, counteracting summer break learning loss.
Strategies rated Scientifically Supported have been tested in many studies, with consistently positive results. Strategies with this rating are worth a close look–they are most likely to make a difference. Other strategies are also worth considering–implementing a strategy with a lesser rating suggests the need for a more cautious approach with a need to closely monitor outcomes to be sure they are making the difference you hope for.
Through WWFH, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program helps communities select and implement evidence-informed strategies that improve health through changes to health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment. We consider quantity, quality, and findings of relevant research in our ratings, giving the most weight to the strongest studies.
I hope you gain one or two things from this article! Thanks for reading!