Evaluation of HMO-School Partnerships to Improve Children's Health Shows Some Improvement
From 1999 to 2001, researchers at Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Kaiser Foundation Research Institute evaluated two projects that were part of the Kaiser Permanente Cares for Kids Demonstration Projects:
- Healthy Minds, which integrated mental health services for children in low-income and ethnically diverse communities into an existing school health clinic in San Jose, Calif.
- Hearts in Power, a cardiovascular disease awareness program implemented among sixth-grade students in two middle schools in San Bernardino County, Calif.
Key findings of the Healthy Minds project included:
- Of the 78 students referred to services, 43, or 55 percent, followed up with at least one recommended service; those 43 students attended 60 of 106 recommended services, at a 57 percent compliance rate for all recommended services.
- Students aged 6–14 who were seen and who received recommendations from Healthy Minds staff demonstrated significant reductions in psychosocial problems based on their pretest and posttest scores on the Pediatric Symptom Checklist.
- The majority of parents surveyed reported improvements in their children's behavior and school performance; parents also said they felt more knowledgeable about and capable of handling their children's mental health problems.
- There was a great need for Spanish-speaking practitioners for this population, as well as flexibility in scheduling for parents' visits.
Key findings of the Hearts in Power project included:
- Both parents and students increased awareness of cardiovascular disease risk factors.
- Significantly more students ate a healthy breakfast and drank more milk, and there was measured improvement in the school nutrition program, including adding a healthy lunch line, low-fat sandwiches and lower-priced milk, water and juice.
- By the end of sixth grade, all smoking-risk attitudes and behaviors had significantly increased among students.
- While there was little difference in pre- and post-physical activity among students, sedentary time increased significantly, especially for boys who reported spending more than four hours per day watching television and playing computer games.