What schoolchildren should be taught about medicines

Katri Hämeen‐Anttila (University of Kuopio, Department of Social Pharmacy, Finland)
Mirja Juvonen (University of Kuopio, Department of Social Pharmacy, Finland)
Riita Ahonen (University of Kuopio, Department of Social Pharmacy, Finland)
Patricia J. Bush (Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA)
Marja Airaksinen (University of Helsinki, Division of Social Pharmacy, University of Helsinki, Finland)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Publication date: 1 December 2005

Abstract

Purpose

This study is part of a larger project, which aims to develop medicine education materials for teachers. The aim of the present study was to discover children's interests in medicines and teachers' opinions on what should be taught about medicines to children of different ages. Furthermore, teachers' opinions were assessed about the importance of medicine education as a part of school health education. The aim of the recommendations, based on our research and the materials developed during this process, is to clarify what proper use of medicines can mean, and in this way help teachers fulfil the requirements of the new Finnish health education curriculum.

Design/methodology/approach

Twelve focus group discussions were conducted among a convenience sample of first‐graders (7‐8 years, n=23), fourth‐graders (10‐11 years, n=24) and seventh‐graders (13‐14 years, n=19). A national representative survey was conducted to gather data from the teachers (n=284, response rate 71 percent).

Findings

Children's interests and teachers' opinions on what could be taught about medicines to children of different ages were quite similar. However, fourth‐graders were interested in many topics which teachers considered suitable for older children, for example, how medicines work, how to avoid adverse reactions, and abuse of medicines. The vast majority of the teachers (93 percent) considered teaching about the proper use of medicines so important that it should be included in the national curriculum of health education. Of the children, fourth‐graders were the most interested in medicines.

Originality/value

This is one of the first studies, which combine the opinions of children and teachers, on what to teach children of different ages about the proper use of medicines. During the study, evidence‐based recommendations on what to teach children about medicines and teaching materials were created.

Keywords

Citation

Hämeen‐Anttila, K., Juvonen, M., Ahonen, R., Bush, P. and Airaksinen, M. (2005), "What schoolchildren should be taught about medicines", Health Education, Vol. 105 No. 6, pp. 424-436. https://doi.org/10.1108/09654280510630777

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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