WORCESTER COUNTY'S INTEGRATED HEALTH LITERACY PROGRAM SHARES 2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR RESULTS

Berlin, Md. Atlantic General Hospital and Health System, along with its partners, the Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy at the University of Maryland (UMD) College Park School of Public Health and Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS), continue to make measurable improvements in the health literacy levels of 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 calculating calorie intake based upon information on a food label during a mathematics class or discussing the harmful effects of e-cigarette use in science class. During the 2017-2018 school year, seventh and eighth grade teachers at all of Worcester County’s public schools rolled out the IHLP within their core area classrooms.

With the completion of the 2017-2018 school year, the IHLP is now integrated into every WCPS, first through eighth grade. The results for the 2017-2018 school year demonstrate the positive impact of the program.

In grade seven, the average health literacy scores increased from pre-test to post-test. Both 7th and 8th grade showed increasing scores when asked mathematical questions regarding health facts and nutrition labels. Other findings:

  • 7th graders’ average health literacy score significantly increased from pre-test to post-test.
  • There was a statistically significant increase in the percentage of 7th grade students who moved from lower health literacy to higher health literacy from pre- to post-test.
  • At post-test, 72.1 percent of 7th grade students reported being extremely confident to say “no” when a friend is pressuring them to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes. This represents a significant increase in confidence from the pre-test.
  • Eighth grade had demonstrated improvement in their self-confidence for making healthy decisions. At post-test, 64.3 percent of the students answered the following question correctly: “if you could only eat 60 grams of carbohydrates per day, what is the maximum amount of ice cream per day you could eat?” This is an increase of nearly 10 percentage points over pre-test scores.
  • 8th graders showed a significant increase in talking about safety on the Internet with family and friends from pre- to post-test.

The next steps for the program include a senior health literacy survey for all 12th grade students of Worcester County Public Schools. The survey is in development with our IHLP partners, UMD Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy and WCPS. The purpose of the survey is to determine the long-term effectiveness of the IHLP. Improving health literacy for the next generation will address the health needs in the community by reducing their risk of poor health outcomes, decreasing unnecessary visits to the emergency room and increasing their ability to access appropriate care. To learn more about the health literacy program please visit www.atlanticgeneral.org/healthliteracy.

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 Hospital, visit www.atlanticgeneral.org.

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