Health education beyond the school gates: Use of school newsletters to communicate health messages to parents and their families
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Western Australian schools are expected to educate beyond the classroom context, promoting the health of students, their families and their communities. Little is known about the frequency with which schools employ newsletters to communicate health messages. This content analysis draws from a sample of 70 newsletters from 46 diverse Western Australian schools, to explore the frequency with which health messages were communicated. Across an average of 1.3 newsletters per school during the November period, 48 instances of a health-promoting message were identified, giving an average of 0.69 health-promoting messages per newsletter. This result suggests that school newsletters may be underutilised as a mechanism for health promotion within school communities. While mental health issues were explored to the greatest extent, a number of areas, such as smoking, alcohol and substance abuse and sun safety received limited attention. Health-promoting messages about driver road safety were comparatively highly represented in the sample, which was unanticipated. While this paper offers insight into the frequency of health message communication through newsletters, and the kinds of messages being transmitted, longitudinal research in this area could provide further insight, in addition to examination of parental perceptions of school newsletter mediated health messages.
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