Keisha S. Gallagher-Smith

Keisha S. Gallagher-Smith

University of Rhode Island



Mentor: Lee F. Seidel, Ph.D. Professor, Health Management and Policy

Factors Affecting the Development of Health Education Curricula in Public Secondary Schools

Healthy People 2000 indicates that the youth of our nation face many health related problems. The central challenge of Healthy People 2000 is the implementation of what is already known about promoting health and preventing disease. Public schools represent one of the most appropriate access points to this population. School health programs are needed and more important than ever to address health related problems such as alcohol and drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS.

The focus of this study was to identify and examine the factors that influence the development of health education curricula in public secondary schools. Of specific interest was how school officials and health educators incorporate and change health education curricula in order to best prepare their students for the contemporary health related problems they face today.

Based upon the lack of prior formal research related to this question, exploratory research methods were used. Qualitative data was collected with the use of a focused questionnaire using open-ended questions. In-depth interviews were conducted with public school administrators, school nurses, and health educators. In total, seven in-depth interviews were conducted. Likewise, current journal publications, government documents, and literature were researched.

Interview results indicate that many factors influence the development of health education curricula in public secondary schools in New Hampshire. Some of these factors include state minimum standards established by state law, available funding, and a local school district's ability to allocate staff time to health education curriculum development and implementation. In New Hampshire, due to state laws and how public education is financed, opportunities to change health education curricula may be exclusively local in nature. In the future, I will examine how health educators decide to implement the health education curricula developed by the local school districts.

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