Can the concept of Health Promoting Schools help to improve students' health knowledge and practices to combat the challenge of communicable diseases: Case study in Hong Kong?
1 Centre for Health Education and Health Promotion, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
2 Department of Community and Family Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
BMC Public Health 2008, 8:42 doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-42Published: 30 January 2008
The growing epidemics of emerging infectious diseases has raised the importance of a setting approach and include the Health Promoting School (HPS) framework to promote better health and hygiene. Built on the concept of 'the' HPS framework, the Hong Kong Healthy Schools Award scheme includes "Personal Health Skills" as one of its key aspects to improve student hygiene knowledge and practices. This study examines the differences in student perceptions, knowledge and health behaviours between those schools that have adopted the HPS framework and those that have not adopted.
A cross-sectional study using multi-stage random sampling was conducted among schools with awards (HSA) and those schools not involved in the award scheme nor adopting the concept of HPS (non-HPS). For HSA group, 5 primary schools and 7 secondary schools entered the study with 510 students and 789 students sampled respectively. For the 'Non-HPS' group, 8 primary schools and 7 secondary schools entered the study with 676 students and 725 students sampled respectively. A self-administered questionnaire was used as the measuring instrument.
Students in the HSA category were found to be better with statistical significance in personal hygiene practice, knowledge on health and hygiene, as well as access to health information. HSA schools were reported to have better school health policy, higher degrees of community participation, and better hygienic environment.
Students in schools that had adopted the HPS framework had a more positive health behaviour profile than those in non-HPS schools. Although a causal relationship is yet to be established, the HPS appears to be a viable approach for addressing communicable diseases.