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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 130-137

Improving health literacy of women about iron deficiency anemia and civic responsibility of students through service learning

1 Dep artment of Medical Education, Fatima Memorial Hospital Medical and Dental College, Shadman, Lahore, Pakistan
2 Department of Internal Medicine, Shifa College of Medicine, Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University Islamabad, Pakistan
3 Institute of Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
4 Department of Planning and Development, Fatima Memorial System, Shadman, Lahore, Pakistan

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.170122

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Background: Service-learning (S-L) is an educational approach that integrates community service with academic learning. S-L helps educate youth about their civic role and responsibility in society, and empowers them to tackle societal problems, strengthening communities through civic engagement. The objectives of this study were to demonstrate the effectiveness of S-L in fostering civic responsibility and communication skills in college students and to increase health literacy regarding iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) among both students and community women. Methods: This interventional exploratory study used a mixed methods approach. Thirteen first-year students from a women's college participated in the project. The authors held small interactive group sessions to teach the students about IDA and communication skills. A questionnaire measured the students' perceived knowledge about civic responsibility, communication skills, and IDA. The students then developed and delivered a health education campaign for sixty five community women and measured changes in the women's health literacy about IDA. A focus group discussion was conducted to collect students' reflections after the S-L experience. The changes in the civic responsibility and communication skills were determined by Wilcoxon rank test, while health literacy in women by a McNemar test. Results: Students showed significant improvement in all three constructs of civic responsibility and in perceptions of their communication skills. Increases in civic responsibility and in acquisition of knowledge emerged as the main themes of the focus group discussion with students. The community women showed substantial improvement in health literacy of IDA. Discussion: In this study, S-L achieves two purposes: (a) Increases students' knowledge of health topics, their sense of civic responsibility and improves their communication skills, and (b) educates women in the community about common and preventable health issues.

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