A feasibility study with process evaluation of a teacher led resource to improve measures of child health

Buchan, Duncan S. and Donnelly, Samantha and McLellan, Gillian and Gibson, Ann-Marie and Arthur, Rosemary (2019) A feasibility study with process evaluation of a teacher led resource to improve measures of child health. PLoS ONE, 14 (7). e0218243. e0218243. ISSN 1932-6203 (https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0218243)

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Previous school-based interventions have produced positive effects upon measures of children’s health and wellbeing but such interventions are often delivered by external experts which result in short-term effects. Thus, upskilling and expanding the resources available to classroom teachers could provide longer-term solutions. This paper presents a feasibility study of an online health resource (Healthy Schools Resource: HSR) developed to assist primary school teachers in the delivery of health-related education. Four schools (n = 2 intervention) participated in this study. Study feasibility was assessed by recruitment, retention and completion rates of several outcomes including height, weight, waist circumference, blood pressure and several metabolic markers including HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose and dietary knowledge following a 10-12-week intervention period. The process evaluation involved fidelity checks of teachers' use of the HSR and post-intervention teacher interviews. A total of 614 consent forms were issued and 267 were returned (43%), of which, 201 confirmed consent for blood sampling (75%). Retention of children participating in the study was also high (96%). Of the 13 teachers who delivered the intervention to the children, four teachers were excluded from further analyses as they did not participate in the fidelity checks. Overall, teachers found the online resource facilitative of teaching health and wellbeing and several recommendations regarding the resource were provided to inform further evaluations. Recruitment and retention rates suggest that the teacher led intervention is feasible and acceptable to both teachers, parents and children. Initial findings provide promising evidence that given a greater sample size, a longer intervention exposure period and changes made to the resource, teachers' use of HSR could enhance measures of health and wellbeing in children.