Improving Schools, Improving School Health Education, Improving Public Health: The Role of SOPHE Members

Birch, DA

Birch, DA (reprint author), Univ Alabama, Dept Hlth Sci, Russell Hall 471, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 USA.

HEALTH EDUCATION & BEHAVIOR, 2017; 44 (6): 839


The reciprocal relationship between health and education has garnered increased attention among public health professionals. The evidence is clear that the level of an individual's education is related to health outcomes in adulthood and that healthier children are more likely to be academically successful than those with health issues. Unpacking and examining various aspects of this relationship is the focus of my 2017 SOHE Presidential Address. The three specific purposes of the presentation are to (a) understand the reciprocal relationship between education and health, (b) understand the characteristics of quality schools and quality school health education, and (c) to review strategies designed to activate school improvement as a public health strategy. In order to examine the relationship, I will address the relationship of social determinants and social justice to the quality of education with special attention to the impact of poverty. In addition, I will present possible reasons behind the linkage of higher educational attainment to better health outcomes, and the impact of health challenges on academic success for school-age children and youth. Finally, I will present characteristics of quality schools including considerations related to quality school health education programs. I conclude the presentation by presenting 11 specific actions for school improvement for consideration by SOPHE members and other public health professionals.

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