Background: Iran, with the second youngest population in the Eastern Mediterranean Region, faces a high demand on health and education. The Iranian youth are at risk for common behavioral problems that may affect their present and future health. The Health Promoting School Initiative is a well-known international approach that addresses these risks. The Health-Promoting School Program was launched as a national initiative in Iran in 2003.
Objectives: This article is the result of an evaluation study that has attempted to assess the intermediate outcomes of this initiative.
Materials and Methods: The study was a before-after single community intervention with cluster sampling in which 32 clusters were randomly selected from 215 health-promoting schools in 6 socioeconomically representative provinces of Iran. The calculated sample size was 1260 students from the first grade (grade 9) of secondary school. Educational approach was a mix of active education, peer education and life skills training which targeted 6 prime messages on risk behaviors.
Results: We observed improvement in the students’ knowledge on sound definition of health, the cause of HIV/AIDS and the route of transmission, different risks and the places with high potential to encounter a risk, consequences of smoking and violence. Attitudes of the participants towards risk and protective behaviors, with the exception of better understanding of laws, improved with little difference between male and female participants.
Conclusions: The Health Promoting School Program model in Iran can significantly improve knowledge and attitude of students regarding the prime messages that address risk behaviors. There is a need to revise the material to maximize the outcomes.