Background on Group Education
What are group education strategies?
- Through group education interventions, health education instructors or facilitators, who are trained in reducing tobacco use initiation (smoking and smokeless tobacco products), increasing cessation of tobacco use, and reducing exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, provide information and resources as part of group interactions to increase knowledge, skills and support related to reducing health effects of tobacco.
- Group education interventions may include presentations as well as individual or group activities that occur in classrooms (e.g., schools, colleges or universities), community centers, hospitals, homes, churches clinics, treatment centers, worksites and other desired locations.
- These interventions can:
- increase knowledge and skills regarding tobacco use,
- provide information about the association between tobacco use and negative health outcomes,
- promote specific behavioral changes (e.g., tobacco cessation),
- educate participants about the challenges with making lifestyle changes
- and influence social support or group norms
How does group education impact tobacco related behaviors?
- For many individuals, the group is a natural setting. People are often taught in groups, live in groups and play in groups. Social interaction can be a key aspect of the developmental process as individuals learn by observing others and the results of their actions.
- Group education interventions can be most effective if they take into consideration both individual characteristics (e.g., knowledge, skills) and group circumstances (e.g., social norms, peer pressure). For example, it may be more helpful to have different group members talk about how quitting smoking has improved their physical or mental health as opposed to simply describing the relationship between tobacco and health.
How can I use group education strategies in my tobacco intervention?
- Group education interventions may be incorporated into existing education interventions (e.g., health education classes in schools, health promotion activities at a senior living facility) or held independently. Similar to individual education interventions and campaigns and promotions, these interventions can be designed to meet the needs of general audiences or specific groups (e.g., “targeted messages”). For example, the education interventions can address the special needs of pregnant women (e.g., health risks for the infant) or adolescent boys (e.g., basic identity questions, peer pressure).
What type of group education is best for my tobacco intervention?
- Groups set up primarily for prevention (i.e., education or skills training to discourage tobacco use in order to minimize risk of disease and disability).
- Groups concerned with specific issues (i.e., education or skills training to discourage tobacco use in order to improve appearance such as no yellow nails or teeth, improve health such as breathing and heart rate or enhance quality of life such as not having to leave to have a cigarette).
- Groups related to general life adjustments, self-management, and life-style (i.e., education or skills training to increase individual’s capacity to resist peer pressure, avoid settings or triggers for tobacco use and find new activities to replace those involving tobacco use).
With whom do I need to work to develop a group education strategy for my tobacco intervention?
- To develop your group education interventions, you will need to work with experienced health educators. Other useful partners may include senior centers/independent living facilities, community centers, community organizations, coalitions, schools, worksites, health departments, researchers, community members, and community leaders.