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Children's and youth health learning environments

Research group
01.09.2022 -
Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences

The research group is interested in the formal and informal environments of health education for children and young people. Key questions include how the emphasis on children’s health and well-being has remained a focal point in national and international policy areas year after year. A child’s health is determined by the actions of the adults who raise them and the values guiding them. In addition to the home, school is a key community that guides and educates children. Schools are important learning environments for children, both academically and in terms of developing health literacy and health behaviors. Both during childhood and as transition into adolescence, local community health guidance plays a crucial preventive role in children’s health problems and risky behaviors. At home, parents support a child’s health through parenting, and at school, members of the school community support health education and guidance. However, in today’s rapidly changing conditions, the collaboration between these two key developmental environments requires even closer and more purposeful cooperation between home and school, as well as information on the long-term implementation of this collaboration.

The project investigates and develops health education environments for children and young people in three sub-projects:

  1. Health collaboration between home and school (2023/2024) is a study that examines and compares the factors and implementation of home-school collaboration in 2015, 2023, and 2030 from the perspective of changing global environments. The first quantitative data was collected from 51 Finnish comprehensive schools (questionnaires/parents and teachers) in 2015 and again in 2023 (and 2030). Qualitative data (interviews/parents and teachers) will be collected in 2024 (and 2030) through the project’s partner, the Finnish Parents’ League networks and school collaboration. The research project originated from Marjorita Sormunen’s 2012 published dissertation, which examined and developed health partnerships between home and school. Since then, several international research articles have been published on the project (see publications).
  2. In the theme of young people’s sexual health, an intervention built according to the principles of social marketing is described and evaluated from the perspectives of 8th graders’ sexual health-related knowledge, attitudes, and communication. The research aims to produce new information that can be utilized multidisciplinarily in promoting young people’s sexual health. The research is part of Hanna Putkonen’s doctoral research.
  3. Research on young people’s sun protection focuses on a topic that has been studied very little in Finland. The objectives of Laura Mikkola’s doctoral research are to produce information about 15-to 16-year-old youths’ knowledge and behavior related to sun protection, measure the effectiveness of sun protection communication, and measure young people’s exposure to UV radiation using dosimeters. In an article published in the Journal of Social Medicine in December 2023, ”Sun Protection as Perceived by 16-20-year-old Youths,” a key finding was that the information related to the sun affected young people’s protection, but even good information did not guarantee sufficient sun protection. According to young people, sun protection could be promoted by discussing the topic more and increasing information about the harms of the sun and sun protection in schools and on social media.


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