Is it Social Problem Solving or Decision Making? Implications for Health Education

Authors: Frauenknecht, Marianne; Black, David R.

Source: American Journal of Health Education, 1 May 2010, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 112-123(12)


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This paper makes a case that decision making (DM) is not social problem solving (SPS) and DM is subordinate and subsumed within SPS. Both terms are defined and distinguished. Confusion between SPS and DM is widespread and has occurred for at least four decades. DM, not SPS, has been established as one of the seven National Health Education Standards (NHES). States adopt the NHES to fulfill their own state's health education standards; 62% of those states have overwhelmingly integrated DM into their health education curriculum standards and only one state has adopted PS. States have failed to master the ability to distinguish these two terms. Consequences of using imprecise definitions and not understanding processes could result in matching an inappropriate curriculum with the term, invalidating assessments, and compromising internal, construct and content validity. Adoption of DM at the federal, state and local levels also is alarming when trends of problems of youth are increasing worldwide. SPS is thoroughly defined, potential for implementation is reviewed, applications to health education curricula are provided, skill-based training and teaching strategies are noted, and applications to real-life situations are documented. A priority agenda for adopting SPS in public health and health education is provided.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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