Summary

An Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee has begun a study of comprehensive school health programs in grades K–12. These programs propose to combine health education, health promotion and disease prevention, and access to health and social services, at the school site. While earlier generations of school health programs were predominantly concerned with stemming the threat of infectious disease, such problems have now to a large extent been superseded by the “new morbidities ”—injuries, violence, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, psychological and emotional disorders, problems due to poverty—and by concerns about many students' lack of access to reliable health information and health care. Comprehensive school health programs may be a promising approach for addressing many of these health-related problems of today's children and young people.

The committee's charge is to examine the structure, operation, and possible outcomes of comprehensive school health programs and to consider their status and potential for wider implementation. At the conclusion of its study, the committee will produce a full report presenting its findings and recommendations, which should be of interest to educators, professionals in health-related fields, families, and policymakers—in short, to everyone concerned with the health, education, and quality of life of our nation's children and young people.

As a first step in the study, the committee has produced this interim statement setting forth its provisional definition of a comprehensive school



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Defining a Comprehensive School Health Program: An Interim Statement Summary An Institute of Medicine (IOM) committee has begun a study of comprehensive school health programs in grades K–12. These programs propose to combine health education, health promotion and disease prevention, and access to health and social services, at the school site. While earlier generations of school health programs were predominantly concerned with stemming the threat of infectious disease, such problems have now to a large extent been superseded by the “new morbidities ”—injuries, violence, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, psychological and emotional disorders, problems due to poverty—and by concerns about many students' lack of access to reliable health information and health care. Comprehensive school health programs may be a promising approach for addressing many of these health-related problems of today's children and young people. The committee's charge is to examine the structure, operation, and possible outcomes of comprehensive school health programs and to consider their status and potential for wider implementation. At the conclusion of its study, the committee will produce a full report presenting its findings and recommendations, which should be of interest to educators, professionals in health-related fields, families, and policymakers—in short, to everyone concerned with the health, education, and quality of life of our nation's children and young people. As a first step in the study, the committee has produced this interim statement setting forth its provisional definition of a comprehensive school

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Defining a Comprehensive School Health Program: An Interim Statement health program, to serve as the basis for further work. To provide a general context for this definition, the interim statement reviews briefly the history of school health programming and examples of previous definitions and models for these programs; these topics will be examined in depth in the full report. The interim statement also identifies additional questions and issues that emerged in the process of formulating the definition, which the committee intends to explore during the course of its study. The provisional definition of a comprehensive school health program adopted by the IOM Committee on Comprehensive School Health Programs in Grades K–12 follows: A comprehensive school health program is an integrated set of planned, sequential, school-affiliated strategies, activities, and services designed to promote the optimal physical, emotional, social, and educational development of students. The program involves and is supportive of families and is determined by the local community based on community needs, resources, standards, and requirements. It is coordinated by a multidisciplinary team and accountable to the community for program quality and effectiveness. Each term in the definition is described in Chapter 3 of this document. This definition is intended to be compatible with various existing models and definitions, but allows the committee flexibility in pursuing its charge. This definition emphasizes what the committee believes are the unique features of a comprehensive school health program —family and community involvement, multiple interventions, integration of program elements, and collaboration across disciplines.