Skip to main content
Rural Health Information Hub

Health Education

Health education delivers learning experiences on health topics, to provide people with knowledge, skills, and tools to live healthier lives. Health education strategies are tailored for their intended audience. Health education presents information to audiences on different health topics, including the health benefits or threats they face, and provides tools to build capacity and support behavior change in an appropriate setting.

Characteristics of health education strategies include:

  • Conducting a community needs assessment to identify community capacity, resources, priorities, and needs.
  • Planning a sequence of lessons and learning activities that increase participants' knowledge, attitudes, and skills.
  • Developing content and materials that reflect the learning styles of the intended audience and meets learning objectives.
  • Ensuring proficiency of program staff, through training, to maintain fidelity to the program model.
  • Implementing programs with integrated, well-planned curricula and materials in a setting convenient for participants.
  • Ensuring participation of the intended audience.

Health education can be delivered at the individual, community, or population level. Examples of health education activities at these three levels include:

  • Individual level:
    • Home visits to patients and their relatives
    • Personal communication or contact
  • Community level:
    • Lectures to deliver basic information on the subject to small groups
    • Workshops to engage small groups in a series of meetings on the topic(s)
    • Group or panel discussions to provide two-way communication on the topic
    • Webinars to provide live, real-time access to information
  • Population level:
    • Television programs or ads to reach a large audience
    • Radio programs or ads to reach an audience with specific listening preferences
    • Newspaper or other printed materials to convey detailed information
    • Social media to deliver engaging visual content

Examples of Health Education Interventions

  • 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 intended audience. Examples of how CHWs support health education interventions are available in the Community Health Workers Toolkit.
  • Examples of outreach and education programs to increase knowledge of oral health are available in the Rural Oral Health Toolkit.
  • Examples of prevention and community education mental health programs are available in the Mental Health in Rural Communities Toolkit.
  • Examples of health education interventions in community paramedicine are available in the Rural Community Paramedicine 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 intended audience 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

Characteristics of an Effective Health Education Curriculum
Offers an annotated list of strategies emphasizing a health education curriculum that, in addition to teaching scientific facts, it includes teaching researched-based functional health information/knowledge.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Society for Public Health Education Resources
Provides a variety of resources to guide health education and health promotion.
Organization(s): Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)

What Works for Health: Education
Identifies scientifically supported and evidence-based health education strategies aimed at improving health behavior and health outcomes.
Organization(s): County Health Rankings & Roadmaps