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The potential of schoolchildren as health change agents in rural western Kenya


  • Onyango-Ouma, W.
  • Aagaard-Hansen, J.
  • Jensen, B.B.


A prospective, quasi-experimental study was carried out in Bondo district in western Kenya to determine the potential of schoolchildren as health change agents in a rural community. A group of 40 schoolchildren were given health education using action-oriented and participatory approaches and their knowledge and practices as well as the influence on recipient groups consisting of peers at school and parents/guardians at home, were studied. The study, which used questionnaire surveys, involved a pre-test of knowledge about malaria, diarrhea and hygiene among the recipient groups. After the baseline surveys they underwent health communication training conducted by the 40 schoolchildren. An identical post-test questionnaire was administered to all participants at 4 and 14 months. Health-related practices were studied regularly through observation in schools and homes over 14 months. Significant improvement in knowledge was detected in all recipient groups. Behavioral changes were more evident among the children than among the adults. The impact of the project was reflected in concrete changes in the school environment as well as the home environments. The implications of the findings for health education projects and public health programs are outlined.

Suggested Citation

  • Onyango-Ouma, W. & Aagaard-Hansen, J. & Jensen, B.B., 2005. "The potential of schoolchildren as health change agents in rural western Kenya," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(8), pages 1711-1722, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:61:y:2005:i:8:p:1711-1722

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Roger A. Hart, 1992. "Children's Participation: From tokenism to citizenship," Papers inness92/6, Innocenti Essay.
    2. Kloos, Helmut, 1995. "Human behavior, health education and schistosomiasis control: A review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 40(11), pages 1497-1511, June.
    3. Geissler, P. W. & Nokes, K. & Prince, R. J. & Achieng' Odhiambo, R. & Aagaard-Hansen, J. & Ouma, J. H., 2000. "Children and medicines: self-treatment of common illnesses among Luo schoolchildren in western Kenya," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 50(12), pages 1771-1783, June.
    4. Christensen, Pia, 2004. "The health-promoting family: a conceptual framework for future research," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 377-387, July.
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    6. Malek, Mohammad Abdul & Saha, Ratnajit & Chowdhury, Priyanka & Khan, Tahsina & Mohammad, Ikhtiar, 2015. "Water quality information, WATSAN-agriculture hygiene messages and water testing with school students: Experimental evidence for behavioral changes in Bangladesh," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 211681, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    7. Parker Fiebelkorn, Amy & Person, Bobbie & Quick, Robert E. & Vindigni, Stephen M. & Jhung, Michael & Bowen, Anna & Riley, Patricia L., 2012. "Systematic review of behavior change research on point-of-use water treatment interventions in countries categorized as low- to medium-development on the human development index," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(4), pages 622-633.
    8. Hampshire, Kate R. & Porter, Gina & Owusu, Samuel Asiedu & Tanle, Augustine & Abane, Albert, 2011. "Out of the reach of children? Young people's health-seeking practices and agency in Africa's newly-emerging therapeutic landscapes," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(5), pages 702-710, September.
    9. Yaojiang Shi & Fang Chang & Xiaoqing Su & Renfu Luo & Linxiu Zhang & Scott Rozelle, 2012. "Parental training, anemia and the impact on the nutrition of female students in China's poor rural elementary schools," China Agricultural Economic Review, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 4(2), pages 151-167, May.


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