• Vol. 36 No. 11, 958–961
  • 15 November 2007

Sociodemographic Factors Influencing the Effectiveness of Public Health Education – A Comparison of Two Studies in Singapore



Introduction: We aimed to evaluate if sociodemographic factors influenced the effectiveness of public education programmes in Singapore. Materials and Methods: Data were extracted from 2 independent cross-sectional studies that assessed the effectiveness of diabetes and HIV/ AIDS public health education programmes. The influence of sociodemographic factors including age, gender, ethnicity and years of education on diabetes and HIV/AIDS knowledge scores (surrogate marker for programme effectiveness) were assessed using separate univariable and multiple linear regression models for each outcome variable. Results: A total of 1321 subjects [46% male, mean (SD) age: 33.9 (13.44) years] participated in the diabetes study while 400 subjects [44% male, mean (SD) age: 33.9 (13.44) years] participated in the HIV/AIDS study. In univariable analyses, age, years of education and ethnicity influenced both diabetes and HIV/ AIDS knowledge scores. However, in multiple linear regression analyses, only age and years of education influenced both diabetes and HIV/AIDS knowledge scores. Conclusion: We found that age and years of education influenced the effectiveness of public health education, suggesting that there is a need to tailor public health education programmes to meet the needs of younger subjects and those with fewer years of education. That knowledge scores were similar between male and female subjects was surprising but could potentially be explained by equal access to information, high availability of information technology and heightened awareness of HIV/AIDS in Singapore.

Public health education is a cornerstone in the primary prevention of chronic diseases. In the United States, for example, studies have shown that cardiovascular public health education contributed to increased hypertension detection and control as well as a decline in smoking, thus contributing significantly to the major reduction in heart disease and stroke mortality in the United States.1,2 It is clear that the effectiveness of public health education depends largely on the extent to which it results in actual behavioural changes, such as participating in screening programmes, adopting an active lifestyle, adhering to medications, etc.

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