Health promotion in schools: a multi-method evaluation of an Australian School Youth Health Nurse Program

Case Studies & Research
2015
11 p.
Periodical title
BMC Nursing, 14 (21)

Background: Health promotion provides a key opportunity to empower young people to make informed choices regarding key health-related behaviours such as tobacco and alcohol use, sexual practices, dietary choices and physical activity. This paper describes the evaluation of a pilot School Youth Health Nurse (SYHN) Program, which aims to integrate a Registered Nurse into school communities to deliver health promotion through group education and individual sessions. Methods: The evaluation was guided by the RE-AIM (reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation, maintenance) framework. The objectives were to explore: 1) whether the Program was accessible to the high school students; 2) the impacts of the Program on key stakeholders; 3) which factors affected adoption of the Program; 4) whether implementation was consistent with the Program intent; and 5) the long-term sustainability of the Program. Research included retrospective analysis of Program records, administration of a survey of student experiences and interviews with 38 stakeholders. Results: This evaluation provided evidence that the SYHN Program is reaching students in need, is effective, has been adopted successfully in schools, is being implemented as intended and could be maintained with sustained funding. The nurses deliver an accessible and acceptable primary health care service, focused on health promotion, prevention and early intervention. After some initial uncertainty about the scope and nature of the role, the nurses are a respected source of health information in the schools, consulted on curriculum development and contributing to whole-of-school health activities. Conclusions: Findings demonstrate that the SYHN model is feasible and acceptable to the students and schools involved in the pilot. The Program provides health promotion and accessible primary health care in the school setting, consistent with the Health Promoting Schools framework.

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