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The Results are in and Health Literacy is on the rise in Worcester County Schools

Berlin, Md. – Based on recent findings by University of Maryland’s Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy (UM), there was a statistically significant increase in health literacy among students in Worcester County Public Schools who took part in the Integrated Health Literacy Program (IHLP) during the 2014-2015 school year. The student’s overall health literacy -- or the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic information -- improved.

In January of 2015, Atlantic General Hospital (AGH), Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS) and UM introduced students in grades two county-wide and in third, fourth, and fifth grade pilot classrooms to the IHLP lessons. Students were pre-tested on their baseline knowledge of health literacy related concepts. After the implementation of IHLP lessons into their science, social studies, reading language arts, and math classes’ students were then post-tested on the topics covered during those lessons and measurements of health literacy.

In the post-testing, the UM’s research found:

  • Second grade students’ awareness of food labels increased from 55.5% at pre-test to 88% after receiving the curriculum.
  • 57% of second grade students stated they had poor health literacy at pre-testing. This dropped to 31% during the post-test evaluation.
  • Third graders considered to have a high health literacy increased from 36% pre-test to 78% post-test. Other grades improved by 11% to 28%.
  • The percentage of fourth-graders with low health literacy dropped from 14.6% at pre-testing to 4.5% post-test.
  • The percent of fifth grade students who reported being “sort of healthy” increased from 38% pre-test to 52% post-test.

The goals of the program include not only improving health knowledge and health literacy but instilling lifelong healthy behaviors in the young minds of the county’s students. Since Atlantic General Hospital and its partners launched the IHLP in 2012 with a pilot in Ocean City Elementary’ s second grade classrooms, the IHLP has expanded into grades one through five county-wide and a pilot in sixth grade at one local middle school.

As of the 2015-2016 school year, the IHLP now serves more than 2400 students, which is roughly a third of the entire school district. During the 2016-2017 school year, the goal of the IHLP team is to begin pilot programs in grades seven and eight. The program as a whole aims for adoption of Health Literacy standards state-wide and one day nation-wide. For more information about the IHLP, 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, and outpatient infusion for individuals with cancer or blood/autoimmune disorders, retina surgery 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 Hospital, visit