1. Starting your Health Education Work: Basic Principles



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1. Starting your Health Education Work: Basic Principles

Study Session 1  Starting your Health Education Work: Basic Principles 5

Introduction 5

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 1 5

1.1  Definition and concepts of health 5

Box 1.1  Defining health 1 5

Question 5

Answer 5

1.1.1  Narrow perspectives of health 6

Question 7

Answer 7


1.1.2  Broader perspectives of health 7

Box 1.2  Defining health 2 7

Question 7

Answer 8


1.2  Physical health 8

Box 1.3  Defining physical health 10

Question 10

Answer 10

1.3  Psychological health 10

Question 10

Answer 10

1.3.1  Cognitive component 11

1.3.2  Emotional component 11

Question 12

Answer 12

1.3.3  Social component 12

Question 13

Answer 13

1.4  Health education 13

Question 13

Answer 13

Box 1.4  Promoting healthy behaviours  14

1.4.1  Rationale for health education 14

Question 15

Answer 15

Question 15

Answer 15

1.5  Health promotion 16

Question 17

Answer 17

1.6  Finding out what’s going on in your community 18

Question 18

Answer 18

1.6.1  Participation 18

Question 18

Answer 19

1.6.2  Using multiple methods and materials in health education 19

Question 19

Case Study 1.1  Meron 19

Answer 19

1.6.3  Organising and planning 19

Question 20

Answer 20

Question 20

Answer 20

Question 21

Answer 21

1.6.4  Audience segmentation 21

Question 22

Answer 22

1.6.5  Needs-based assessment 22

Question 23

Answer 23

Question 23

Answer 23

1.7  Motivation 24

Question 24

Answer 24

Summary of Study Session 1 25

Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) for Study Session 1 25

SAQ 1.1 (tests Learning Outcome 1.1) 25

Answer 26

SAQ 1.2 (tests Learning Outcome 1.2) 26

Answer 26

SAQ 1.3 (tests Learning Outcome 1.3) 26

Answer 27


Study Session 1  Starting your Health Education Work: Basic Principles

Introduction


In this first study session you will learn about the nature of health, health education, health promotion and some related concepts. This will help you as a Health Extension Practitioner to understand the social, psychological and physical components of health. You will also learn about the principles of health education and have the opportunity to consider these basic ideas while planning and carrying out your health education sessions.

Learning Outcomes for Study Session 1


When you have studied this session, you should be able to:

1.1  Define and use correctly all of the key words printed in bold. (SAQ 1.1)

1.2  Discuss the concepts of health, health education, health promotion and some related terms. (SAQ 1.2)

1.3  Describe and discuss the basic health education principles you are expected to apply. (SAQ 1.3)


1.1  Definition and concepts of health


Your job as a Health Extension Practitioner will be to prevent health problems in your community. Malaria, diarrhoeal disease, measles, tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and harmful traditional practices are among the health problems you will become familiar with in your community setting. Let’s begin with a definition of health (Box 1.1).

Box 1.1  Defining health 1


In the Oxford English Dictionary health is defined as: ‘the state of being free from sickness, injury, disease, bodily conditions; something indicating good bodily condition’.

Question


Now stop for a moment and think about someone you think is healthy and someone else who you would consider to be not healthy. Look at the definition of health again. Is it similar to the things you thought about when you thought of a healthy and an unhealthy person?

Answer


This definition of health is a widely publicised one. But you may have thought of someone who has a disability or wondered about someone who looks OK but who you know does no exercise. Clearly health is not quite as simple as the definition implies.

End of answer

The concept of health is wide and the way we define health also depends on individual perception, religious beliefs, cultural values, norms, and social class. Generally, there are two different perspectives concerning people’s own definitions of health that you as a Health Extension Practitioner will be expected to understand; a narrow perspective and a broader perspective.

1.1.1  Narrow perspectives of health


People with a narrow perspective consider health as the absence of disease or disability or biological dysfunction. According to this view (or model), to call someone unhealthy or sick means there should be evidence of a particular illness (Figure 1.1). Social, emotional and psychological factors are not believed to cause unhealthy conditions. This model is narrow and limits the definition of health to the physical and physiological capabilities that are necessary to perform routine tasks.

According to this definition, the individual is healthy if all the body parts, cells, tissues and organ systems are functioning well and there is no apparent dysfunction of the body.



Figure 1.1  Concentrating only on cells and tissues can lead to a narrow definition of health. (Photo: I-TECH/Julia Sherburne)

Using this model people view the human body in the same terms as a computer, or mechanical device — when something is wrong you take it to experts who maintain it. Physicians, unlike behavioural experts, often focus on treatment and clinical interventions with medication rather than educational interventions to bring about behaviour change.

Question


About two months ago Serena lost her six month old twins. She is grief stricken. She was always slender but now she looks very thin. She cannot sleep, she cannot eat and she doesn’t want to talk to anyone. Do you think the view of health you have just read about applies to Serena?

Answer


This view of health ignores many of the social and psychological causes of ill health. Serena’s grief is not an illness but it is certainly affecting her health.

End of answer

In the next section we will discuss the broader perspective of health which includes other factors in addition to physical ones. In your work as a Health Extension Practitioner you will be expected to diagnose the overall social, psychological and physical factors which affect the health of your community and you will have to think about effective interventions accordingly.

1.1.2  Broader perspectives of health


In the previous section you read about a narrow definition of health. This section will help you understand the concept of health in a broader and more holistic way, as defined in Box 1.2.

Box 1.2  Defining health 2


The most widely used of the broader definitions of health is that within the constitution of the World Health Organization (1948), which defines health as: ‘A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’

This classic definition is important, as it identifies the vital components of health. To more fully understand the meaning of health, it is important to understand each of its individual components. The broader concept of health can help you as a Health Extension Practitioner when you are planning and implementing your health education activities at community level.


Question


Think back to Serena. Describe her state of health.

Answer


Serena is mentally distressed. She does not by any means have ‘mental and social well-being’.

End of answer



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