Health education on diabetes at a South African national science festival

M Mhlongo, P Marara, K Bradshaw, S C Srinivas


Background. Diabetes is one of the non-communicable diseases with a major negative impact on the health and development of South Africans. Empowering the population’s understanding of the condition, with health-literacy appropriate approaches, is one of the interventions that allows discussions around the prevention of diabetes.

Objective. To determine the effects of a health education programme on increasing knowledge about diabetes and encouraging preventive measures.

Method. A public health education exhibition was held by a pharmacy student at a national science festival. It incorporated presentations, posters, health models, word-search games, information leaflets and a computer-based quiz consisting of pre- and post-intervention questions.

Results. Junior and senior school learners participated in the computer-based quiz. Results from the junior school pre-intervention phase showed that learners had a fair prior knowledge of diabetes, with an overall score of 52.8%. Improvement in their overall mean score at the 5% significance level was noted (p=0.020). There was a significant difference in the mean score after the intervention at the 1% level (government schools: 65.5 (standard error (SE) 3.1)%, independent schools: 45.9 (6.2)%; p=0.006). Of the senior learners 53.7% (n=137) indicated that they use computers at school, while 118 (46.3%) did not have access to computers. The improvement in overall knowledge of the senior participants after the intervention was significant at the 0.1% level (p<0.001).

Conclusion. The health education offered by the pharmacy student's project was interactive and used an interdisciplinary approach to improve health literacy and raise awareness of diabetes. This is a tested intervention that may be adopted for improving health literacy among schoolchildren.

Authors' affiliations

M Mhlongo, Faculty of Pharmacy, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

P Marara, Faculty of Pharmacy, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

K Bradshaw, Department of Computer Science, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

S C Srinivas, Faculty of Pharmacy, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa

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Diabetes; Health promotion; Computer-based quiz; Health literacy; Service learning

Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2018;10(1):26-30. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2018.v10i1.887

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-04-09
Date published: 2018-04-09

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