WHAT IS HEALTH EDUCATION?
- Health education is a social science that draws from the biological, environmental, psychological, physical and medical sciences to promote health and prevent disease, disability and premature death through education-driven voluntary behavior change activities.
- Health education is the development of individual, group, institutional, community and systemic strategies to improve health knowledge, attitudes, skills and behavior.
- The purpose of health education is to positively influence the health behavior of individuals and communities as well as the living and working conditions that influence their health.
WHY IS HEALTH EDUCATION IMPORTANT?
- Health education improves the health status of individuals, families, communities, states, and the nation.
- Health education enhances the quality of life for all people.
- Health education reduces premature deaths.
- By focusing on prevention, health education reduces the costs (both financial and human) that individuals, employers, families, insurance companies, medical facilities, communities, the state and the nation would spend on medical treatment.
WHO PROVIDES HEALTH EDUCATION?
- Some people specialize in health education (trained and/or certified health education specialists). Others perform selected health education functions as part of what they consider their primary responsibility (medical treatment, nursing, social work, physical therapy, oral hygiene, etc.). Lay workers learn on the job to do specific, limited educational tasks to encourage healthy behavior.
- Para-professionals and health professionals from other disciplines are not familiar with the specialized body of health education knowledge, skills, theories, and research, nor is it their primary interest or professional development focus. This will limit their effectiveness with clients and communities, and their cost-effectiveness.
- Health education requires intensive specialized study. Over 250 colleges and universities in the US offer undergraduate and graduate (Masters and Doctorate) degrees in school or community health education, health promotion and other related titles.
- Nationally, voluntary credentialing as a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) is available from the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing, Inc (NCHEC).