New Professional-Development Course Supports Teachers’ Efforts to Improve Students’ Ability to Make Appropriate Health Care Decisions


United Health Foundation and the National Education Association (NEA) Health Information Network have launched a new online professional-development workshop for K-12 teachers designed to help them enhance their students’ abilities to make personally appropriate health and well-being decisions.

As health care becomes more complex and as health-related information becomes more plentiful, today’s students will need to develop new competencies if they are to achieve optimal health outcomes.

According to the American Medical Association, “health literacy” – a basic understanding of the health information and services one needs to make appropriate health decisions – is “a stronger predictor of a person's health than age, income, employment status, educational level and race.” This curriculum provides America’s teachers with an important tool to help increase the health literacy of today’s students.

“Health literacy goes beyond the ability to read or compute. It requires reading, listening, analytical and decision-making skills, as well as the ability to apply these skills to health situations in order to make sound decisions for yourself and others,” said Jerry Newberry, executive director of the NEA Health Information Network.

The NEA’s professional-development course supports educational goals that include topics such as the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles; medical education literature; physician prescription and treatment plans; understanding consent forms; and navigating the health care system.

“As today’s students emerge into the world, they will need to take ownership of their health to a greater extent than their parents’ generation,” said Reed Tuckson, M.D., board member, United Health Foundation and executive vice president and chief of medical affairs, UnitedHealth Group. “United Health Foundation is proud to partner with the NEA Health Information Network to help our teachers enhance students’ health literacy, develop the core competencies they will need as adults and play an important role in their ability to improve their health and quality of life.”

The course, developed by the NEA Health Information Network with a grant by United Health Foundation, is based on National Health Education Standards that focus on skills (what students need to do) and content (what students need to know). It consists of a 60-minute workshop that offers an overview of the standards and demonstrates how health literacy can be built across content areas and grade levels, and how to weave health literacy content into students’ current math, science and social-studies curricula, in addition to health education.

Presented by Bonni Hodges, Ph.D., of the State University of New York, Cortland, the workshop provides an introduction to the concept of health literacy and how it can be fostered. Using the fictional Rodriguez family, Hodges demonstrates the impact that low health literacy can have on family members young and old. She then walks workshop viewers through the National Health Education Standards and provides concrete examples of how these standards contribute to health literacy and how the content and skills can be taught.

The course is available at no cost to the more than 3.2 million NEA-member educators, other educators, and education organizations and their constituencies, and can be accessed by registering at

About the National Education Association
As the non-profit health affiliate of the 3.2 million member National Education Association (NEA), the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) provides health and safety information, programs, and services for the benefit of NEA's members and the 43 million students they serve. NEA members include teachers, bus drivers, school custodians, cafeteria workers, and other school employees who make up almost 15,000 local associations throughout the U.S, and on military bases in Europe and Asia. For more information, please visit

About United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. Since established by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $187 million to improve health and health care. For more information, visit


Related Stories

Share with your friends

New Professional-Development Course Supports Teachers’ Efforts to Improve Students’ Ability to Make Appropriate Health Care Decisions