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Health Education

Health education is one strategy for implementing health promotion and disease prevention programs. Health education provides learning experiences on health topics. Health education strategies are tailored for their target population. Health education 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:

  • Lectures
  • Courses
  • Seminars
  • Webinars
  • Workshops
  • Classes

Characteristics of health education strategies include:

  • 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.

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 deliver 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.

Resources to Learn More

A Framework for Educating Health Professionals to Address the Social Determinants of Health
Document
Presents a framework for helping health professionals to understand and address the social determinants of health.
Organization(s): National Academy of Sciences
Date: 3/2016

Health Education Strategies
Website
Discusses issue-specific strategies and includes curriculum and models that address various types of health promotion activities.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Nutrition-Related Policy and Environmental Strategies to Prevent Obesity in Rural Communities: A Systematic Review of the Literature, 2002-2013
Document
A literature review was conducted to offer guidance on policy and environmental strategies for preventing obesity in rural settings.
Author(s): Randolph, K., Whitaker, P., & Arellano, A.
Citation: Preventing Chronic Disease, 12
Date: 4/2015

The Practical Guide: Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults
Document
An evidence-based methodology is provided to develop key recommendations for educating, assessing, and treating overweight and obese patients.
Organization(s): National Institutes of Health
Date: 10/2000

What Works for Health: Education Strategies
Website
Discusses scientifically supported and evidence-based health education strategies aimed at improving health behavior for increased health outcomes.
Organization(s): Robert Wood Johnson Foundation