– Atlantic General Hospital and Health System, along with its partners,
the Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy at the University
of Maryland College Park School of Public Health and Worcester County
Public Schools, continue to make measurable improvements in the health
literacy levels of elementary and middle school students in Worcester County.
Health literacy is measured by an individual’s ability to obtain,
process and understand basic health information and services needed to
make appropriate health decisions. A high level of health literacy is
crucial to achieving a healthy lifestyle and properly utilizing healthcare services.
Integrated Health Literacy Program (IHLP) standards help guide teachers
in developing lesson plans for core area classrooms (math, reading language
arts, science, and social studies) that include basic health literacy
concepts and skills. The integrated lessons vary depending on grade level
that the program is implemented.
Lesson topics include the role of heroin use in the criminal justice system
in social studies class or how opioids affect the brain chemically during
science class. During the 2016-2017 school year, seventh and eighth grade
teachers at Stephen Decatur Middle School piloted the IHLP within their
core area classrooms. The sixth grade curriculum was also expanded countywide,
while teachers in grades one through five continued to implement the IHLP
The IHLP completed its fourth year with pre-testing all sixth grade students
in the county and seventh and eighth grade students at Stephen Decatur
Middle School prior to implementation of the curriculum in the fall and
then again post-curriculum implementation in the spring. The results for
the 2016-2017 school year show demonstrate significant positive impact
of the program.
In grades six, seven and eight, the average health literacy scores increased
from pre-test to post-test. Other findings include:
More 6th grade students at post-test reported talking about Internet safety with
friends and family.
- There was a statistically significant increase in the percentage of students
who moved into the highest health literacy score range. Sixth grade realized
an increase of more than 15 percentage points. Seventh grade high health
literacy scores increased by nearly 16 percentage points, and eighth grade
by nearly eight points.
- At post-test, 69.5 percent of eighth graders reported being extremely confident
they could say “no” when a friend is pressuring them to try
illicit drugs such as heroin, a statistically significant improvement
over pre-test results.
“Individuals have to understand basic health principles before they
can become active and effective partners in their own care. We’re
pleased with the results.” said Michael Franklin, CEO of Atlantic General Hospital.
During the current 2017-2018 school year, the IHLP is being implemented
in grades 1-8 county-wide, the first year of full implementation of the
program. The program currently serves more than 3,800 students. To learn
more about the health literacy program please visit
About Atlantic General Hospital
Atlantic General Hospital has been providing quality health care to the
residents of Worcester, Wicomico, Somerset (Md.) and Sussex (Del.) counties
since May 1993. Built by the commitment and generosity of a dedicated
community, the hospital’s state-of-the-art facility in Berlin, Md.,
combines old-fashioned personal attention with the latest in technology
and services. It provides quality specialty care such as weight loss surgery,
orthopedics, outpatient infusion and chemotherapy for individuals with
cancer or blood/autoimmune disorders, and a comprehensive women’s
diagnostic center. Atlantic General Health System, its network of more
than 40 primary care providers and specialists, care for residents and
visitors throughout the region. For more information about Atlantic General