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Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 16(4)

Less germs, less mucus, less snot: teachers’ and health workers’ perceptions of the benefits and barriers of ear health programs in lower primary school classes

June Doyle A B C and Eli Ristevski B

A South Metropolitan Public Health Unit, PO Box 546, Fremantle, WA 6959, Australia.
B Monash University Department of Rural and Indigenous Health, PO Box 973, Moe, Vic. 3825, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: june.doyle@health.wa.gov.au.

Australian Journal of Primary Health 16(4) 352-359 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PY10024
Submitted: 9 June 2010  Accepted: 27 October 2010   Published: 3 December 2010

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This study explored health and education professionals’ perceptions of the health benefits and barriers of different ear health programs used in lower primary school classes in two district education areas in the Goldfields South East Health Region, Western Australia. Health and education staff providing services to children in kindergarten to year three primary school classes were sent a questionnaire about ear health programs provided in their school. Sixty-one questionnaires were returned from 43 teachers, 14 community health nurses, three Aboriginal health workers and one teacher’s assistant. Some schools implemented all the ear health programs examined at all year levels while others implemented only one of the programs. Teachers, community health nurses and Aboriginal health workers identified that all ear health programs were beneficial to students. Reported physical health benefits included reduced ear infections, early detection of ear infections and improved hearing. Behavioural benefits included improved concentration, alertness and attention in the classroom. Barriers to implementing the programs were obtaining consent from parents/carers, student transience and attendance, time to implement and conduct the programs and human and physical resources. Evaluation methods used varied from no evaluation for the Breathe Blow Cough and tissue spearing programs to limited data collection for audiometry, otoscopy and ear toilet programs. Respondents perceived that ear health programs were effective in improving health and behavioural outcomes for children. A formal pre-post evaluation to provide objective data to confirm this is needed to inform policy around this important health issue.

Additional keywords:Breathe Blow Cough program, children, prevention.


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