Research Day

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BACKGROUND Adolescents with behavioral health issues tend to have inadequate access to health education, and are thus less aware of the importance of personal and dental hygiene, exercise, and healthy diet and lifestyle habits. Due to this disparity, this population has been known to harbor a higher prevalence of STI’s, drug and alcohol abuse, physical altercations, juvenile detention, and suicide attempts. PURPOSE The overall objective of this study was to examine the effect of integrating a health science curriculum in this population. METHODS Participants aged 5-17 years old were recruited and assigned to either control or science groups by Family and Children’s Services (FCS). We created an 8-week health science curriculum to teach everyday life skills. A questionnaire was utilized to assess participants’ comprehension of health information. The effect of the curriculum on participants’ behaviors was examined using a pre/post “Behavioral Insight” questionnaire. Non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test was utilized to determine whether there was a significant difference in behavioral goals and science based knowledge between the control and science groups. RESULTS We examined two measurements to evaluate the efficacy of delivering health science information to 23 participants in two science groups, compared to 20 participants in two control groups who did not receive the curriculum. The health knowledge assessment results demonstrated a marginally significant improvement of understanding and retaining health science, which was delivered to the science group in 8 independent sessions on a weekly basis (p=0.0669). We observed a statistically significant difference in participants’ understanding of their behavioral deficits and how to improve primary behavior (p=0.01). There was no significant difference in either group regarding the extent to which participants understand the particular behavior to improve (p>0.05). CONCLUSION Findings from our study demonstrate that integration of an 8-week science curriculum into life skill training did not negatively affect participants’ understanding of their own behaviors. Compared to the control group, we observed a marginally significant improvement in health knowledge assessment scores among students in the science group. Finally, the 8-week science curriculum, both active and passive learning components, was determined to be an effective delivery method for the content involved. Further study in a larger sample may be necessary to detect significant effects of the curriculum.



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