Roles of community organizations in improving cancer prevention instruction in schools. Academic Article uri icon


  • Health education can be an important factor in the development of appropriate health behaviors in children. Community agencies that have not traditionally supported school health education can be of significant influence in improving school health education. This study examined the relationships between the involvement of the American Cancer Society (ACS) in schools and the degree of implementation of cancer prevention curricula. School health specialists from 41 metropolitan school districts in Texas were surveyed regarding the coverage of topical areas related to cancer prevention, health instructional patterns in districts, and collaborative efforts with the ACS. Tobacco use was widely covered in all levels of schools (elementary, middle, and high school), as was nutrition. Cancer detection and the concepts of cancer as a disease received most extensive coverage in high schools, and there were no significant grade level differences regarding coverage of the risks of sun exposure. School personnel had little training and felt little district support for school health education. Most respondents felt that teachers saw the ACS primarily as a resource for cancer information and resources than as a collaborative partner in health education efforts. Community organizations can play three roles in supporting school health education. First, the organization must certainly provide disease-specific information (in this case, cancer). They must also promote comprehensive school health education in general. Lastly, the study illustrates that community organizations must act as advocates for broader change in schools by supporting the development of organizational capacity within schools and districts to implement quality school health education, enlisting community support for quality school health education, and supporting policy initiatives that strengthen school health education activities.

published proceedings

  • J Community Health

author list (cited authors)

  • Smith, D. W., Zhang, J. J., & Colwell, B.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Smith, DW||Zhang, JJ||Colwell, B

publication date

  • January 1998