“Well Me” — Improving Health Literacy in Schools


Dr Ffion Williams, GP, Programme Lead C21 north

Ffion Jones, Fourth Year Medical Student, Cardiff University


Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board


This Bevan Exemplar Project introduced a programme, designed and delivered by third year Cardiff Medical Students on a placement in primary care in North Wales, to improve children’s health literacy and resilience.


Background


Health literacy is a key determinant of health. Poor health literacy is associated with increased hospital admissions and readmissions, less participation in preventative activities, higher prevalence of health risk factors, poorer self-management of chronic conditions and poorer disease outcomes.


The close relationship between health literacy and health outcomes demonstrates the importance of health literacy promotion. Improving health literacy at an early age is crucial to childhood health and development and aligns with the aims of “A Healthier Wales: Long term plan for health and social care."


Aims

  • To design a “Well Me” teaching programme that covered a range of common ‘minor illnesses’ and ‘major illnesses’ in 2 x 45 minute sessions and was appropriate, fun and engaging for Year 6 pupils.

  • To recruit schools to pilot the “Well Me” teaching programme.

  • To design a tool to assess health literacy to evaluate the “Well Me” teaching programme.



Challenges

  • School engagement; this was facilitated by engaging with the “Healthier Schools” lead in Denbighshire.

  • Designing a tool to assess health literacy. According to the literature there are currently 29 health literacy tools and a systematic review assessing the quality of these tools concluded that no tool was the best and all tools posed several limitations.

Outcomes


The ‘Well Me” teaching programme was delivered to two schools as pilot sites. In total the ‘minor illness’ session was delivered to 68 Year 6 pupils and the ‘major illness’ session to 59 Year 6 pupils.


The staff and pupils gave excellent feedback, and the schools indicated they would like further engagement in the future.


Some students evaluated their own health literacy lower after the sessions. One key driving factor of this project was the daily experience of Dr Williams as a GP, consulting with parents and children who had low levels of health literacy. The team attributed this finding to the Duning-Kruger effect; people’s ability to over, or under, self-evaluate.


Next steps


Future steps for the project include:

  • For C21 north medical students in Bangor and CARER students to continue to develop and deliver the programme as part of their community engagement.

  • Co-produce with Year 12 and 13 students to deliver the “Well Me” teaching programme to the younger year groups in their school.

  • Evaluate the impact of the programme on GP attendance and school attendance.



Add element of encouraging children to consider medicine as a career at an early age.

Being a Bevan Exemplar has given me the opportunity to lead on a project that has reminded me of all the reasons I chose to study medicine and become a GP, with an opportunity to improve health outside of the clinical consultation. Working with enthusiastic, altruistic students has been a joyful experience."
DrFfionWilliams



Part of cohort Bevan Exemplar Projects 2018-19