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Keywords:

  • health educators;
  • professional preparation;
  • sexuality

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND

This study examined the impact of professional preparation and class structure on sexuality topics taught and use of practice-based instructional strategies in US middle and high school health classes.

METHODS

Data from the classroom-level file of the 2006 School Health Policies and Programs were used. A series of multivariable logistic regression models were employed to determine if sexuality content taught was dependent on professional preparation and /or class structure (HE only versus HE/another subject combined). Additional multivariable logistic regression models were employed to determine if use of practice-based instructional strategies was dependent upon professional preparation and/or class structure. Years of teaching health topics and size of the school district were included as covariates in the multivariable logistic regression models.

RESULTS

Findings indicated professionally prepared health educators were significantly more likely to teach 7 of the 13 sexuality topics as compared to nonprofessionally prepared health educators. There was no statistically significant difference in the instructional strategies used by professionally prepared and nonprofessionally prepared health educators. Exclusively health education classes versus combined classes were significantly more likely to have included 6 of the 13 topics and to have incorporated practice-based instructional strategies in the curricula.

CONCLUSIONS

This study indicated professional preparation and class structure impacted sexuality content taught. Class structure also impacted whether opportunities for students to practice skills were made available. Results support the need for continued advocacy for professionally prepared health educators and health only courses.