What is Health Education? - Definition, Topics & Role in Society

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  • 0:00 Health Education
  • 0:32 History
  • 1:56 Philosophy & Function
  • 3:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

What is health education and what do health educators do? What is the history of this interesting field? This lesson defines health education and goes over many of its important facets.

Health Education

This lesson is going to educate you about health education! Come on, you know it's fun to learn stuff, especially to learn stuff about learning! Health education is a type of education designed for individuals or the public at large to gain the knowledge, skills, value, and attitudes necessary to promote, maintain, improve, and restore their, or another person's, health.

Let's go over the historical foundation, philosophy, and function of health education in society.


The history of organized modern health education goes back just a few decades. However, the entire field of health education and promotion has been around for millennia in one shape or another. The roots of health education lie with the ancient Greeks. These guys were super smart. They were the first people to, at least partially, realize that a person's health was not influenced by some supernatural mumbo jumbo and that things like a person's activities, environment, and diet played a role in diseases. Inasmuch, the ancient Greeks organized concepts related to public health policy, education, and the development of skills related to promoting an individual's and a community's health.

In terms of a contemporary view, health education in its modern form started to come into existence around the 1970s, with the creation of the President's Committee on Health Education. This was created by none other than President Richard Nixon. Thereafter, more important developments began to occur, including the creation of a National Center for Health Education in 1975, as well as the creation of the Department of Education and the modern version of the Department of Health and Human Services around 1980. Thus began the true modern era of health education in the U.S.

Philosophy & Function

The whole point of health education is to draw knowledge from many different sources, including biology, psychology, medicine, ecology, and many others. The knowledge sourced from these and other fields is then used to promote a person's health, prevent disease, and perhaps even cure a person of their ailment. Health education strives to develop key knowledge and skill sets in individuals, institutions, and communities in order to improve everyone's health knowledge, skills, and attitudes. In short, health education strives to positively influence the health behaviors of the public at large and at the level of the individual. It also serves to positively affect or educate a person about their work environment as well as their natural surroundings, ones that may impact their health.

Let's take a look at some specific examples of health education at play.

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