Resident Ann and Robert H Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Ann and Robert H Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Chicago, Illinois, United States
Background: Adolescence is a critical time for cultivating decision-making skills and healthy behaviors. While improving knowledge and awareness of common health conditions is important for the development of health literacy, focused attempts at assessing health knowledge among a racially/ethnically diverse population of urban adolescents are sparse.
Objective: Therefore, this study evaluated the health knowledge among a diverse sample of urban high school students enrolled in a health advocacy and education program. Additionally, health topics of interest among the students were determined.
Design/Methods: Among sixteen different public high schools, 95 students participated in a four-session community health empowerment program. Students created peer-facing educational posters and group videos on health topics of their choice. To assess the effect of the program on health knowledge, students completed a 45-item pre/post questionnaire on general and adolescent health conditions. Descriptive statistics evaluated overall mean scores by demographic variables including grade, gender, race/ethnicity, and zip code. Unadjusted comparisons of pre/post scores were evaluated using paired t-tests (α=0.05) with robust standard errors to adjust for potential clustering by school.
Results: Among all students (n=95), 42.1% were in Junior year, 82.1% were female, and 43.2% were Hispanic/Latinx. Moreover, 41.5% lived in North Chicago (Table 1). The most common health topics of choice were mental health (37%), obesity (7.46%) and asthma (7.46%). (Figure 1). Significant pre/post differences were observed in overall health knowledge (n=79; Pre: 19.2, Post: 21.6, p<0.001), and by demographics including grade (Freshman pre: 17.4, post: 22.3, p<0.001; Juniors pre: 19.2, post: 22.4, p <0.001), gender (females pre: 19.1, post: 22.4, p <0.001), race/ethnicity (Black students pre: 17.5, post: 22.5, p <0.001), and region (North pre: 20.7, post: 23.3, p=0.02; South pre: 17.3, post: 22.3, pp=0.01). (Table 2) Conclusion(s): These findings suggest that health literacy empowerment programs may improve health knowledge among diverse groups of adolescents. Given that mental health was the most common topic of interest among students, there appears to remain a critical need for more resources and education to improve mental health literacy. Future research using validated surveys at multiple time points is necessary to assess if these programs sustainably improve health literacy and behaviors.
Authors/Institutions: Christina Kim, Ann and Robert H Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States; Haley Hultquist, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States; Madeleine K. Kanaley, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States; Jamie L. Fierstein, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States; Ruchi Gupta, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, United States