Implementing comprehensive health education: educational innovations and social change
The effectiveness of health education is ultimately determined by whether it is implemented, and how it is implemented. Although a given health education innovation may be designed and experimentally assessed to promote well-being with some measure of effectiveness and efficiency, the actual impact of the innovation will depend upon the manner in which it is disseminated, initiated, and maintained. The implementation of health education programs in schools or elsewhere is a function of the types of innovations available, certain characteristics of those innovations that influence their use, and the manner in which the innovations are brought into practice. This paper has been prepared to review, synthesize, and apply current and relevant information about educational innovations and social change to provide a conceptual base for the design, execution, and analysis of efforts to implement health education in schools. The American system of public and private schools could be an agent vitally important to the realization of a second public health revolution. Indeed, in a democratic society, the implementation of health education in schools seems a condition necessary for such a revolution. By analyzing and learning from our own health education efforts, as well as the efforts of those experienced with implementing other types of educational innovations in schools, we might ensure that future populations are informed sufficiently about factors that influence their health and well-being.