Partnerships for Comprehensive School Health: Collaboration among Colleges/Universities, State-Level Organizations, and Local School Districts

By Gottlieb, Nell H.; Keogh, Erin F. et al. | Journal of School Health, October 1999 | Go to article overview

Partnerships for Comprehensive School Health: Collaboration among Colleges/Universities, State-Level Organizations, and Local School Districts


Gottlieb, Nell H., Keogh, Erin F., Jonas, Judith R., Grunbaum, Jo Anne, Walters, Susan R., Fee, Rebecca M., Saunders, Ruth P., Baldyga, William, Journal of School Health


Comprehensive school health programs represent one potentially effective approach to improving the health-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of today's youth.[1,2] As defined by the Joint Committee on Health Education Terminology,[3] a comprehensive school health program includes an organized set of policies, procedures, and activities designed to protect and promote the health and well-being of students and staff. Comprehensive school health programs are grounded in the belief that efforts to improve student health prove more effective as part of an integrated, coordinated system then when they exist and function in relative isolation from one another.[4]

Recently, the term "coordinated school health program" has been suggested as a substitute for "comprehensive school health program." The change in terminology was intended to better distinguish the comprehensive school health program as a program from comprehensive school health education, which relates to instruction, and to emphasize that these programs can coordinate existing school health activities and resources, without necessarily creating an entirely new program.[2] This paper will use "comprehensive," since this terminology was in use at the time the project was undertaken.

A key attribute of a comprehensive school health program involves coordination of programs and resources at both the local and state levels. At the school district level, a comprehensive school health program typically involves coordination of existing programs and resources, and may incorporate resources from community organizations as well. At the state level, the emphasis involves identification and coordination of state resources, including those of state education agencies, state health departments, and other public, private, and nonprofit organizations.

Government agencies and schools with an interest in a comprehensive school health program are looking for ways to expand the involvement of an often under-utilized partner in promoting school health programs: colleges and universities. The programs and resources of institutions of higher education offer unique possibilities for enriching both local and state efforts to improve the health of students.[2] Figure 1 depicts the characteristic interagency collaborations involved in a comprehensive school health program at the state and local levels, including where colleges/universities can play a part in such collaborations.

[Figure 1 ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

This survey was conducted as part of a larger effort by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Adolescent and School Health, to increase collaboration among colleges/universities, school districts, and state-level organizations. The survey was conducted by 12 of CDC's Prevention Research Centers, which are housed in schools of public health or preventive medicine programs across the United States. The 12 centers were supported by CDC to operate as a network, with one Prevention Research Center serving as a coordinating center. In addition to the authors, individuals contributing to this study were: Hope Bannister, Columbia University: Richard Crespo, PhD, Marshall University School of Medicine; Melissa Galvin, PhD, University of Alabama; Brian Geiger, EdD, University of Alabama; Susan Levy, PhD, University of Illinois, Chicago; Sue Forster-Cox, PhD, University of New Mexico; Sheila Sholes-Ross, MPH, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Kenneth McLeroy, PhD, University of Oklahoma; Vicki Cleaver, PhD, University of Oklahoma; Guy Parcel, PhD, University of Texas Health Sciences Center, Houston; Michelle Bell, PhD, University of Washington; and Nancy O'Hara-Tompkins, PhD, West Virginia University.

This paper reports on a qualitative study of the collaborative experiences of colleges/universities, school districts, and state-level organizations in 12 states regarding comprehensive school health programs. …

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