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Public Health Education

Promoting, supporting and advancing healthier lifestyles and communities


healthy mom and kidsPublic Health Education encourages educational, behavioral, environmental and societal changes that support, promote and improve individual, group and community health. Public Health Education is best considered a social science that is based on well-accepted, theory-based approaches. The purpose of health education is to positively influence the health behavior of individuals and communities as well as the living and working conditions that influence health.

Public Health Education has been a recognized professional discipline within the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for over 30 years. Public Health Education specialists work at the regional and central office level. They practice primarily at the community level and also serve as DHEC program consultants.


Public Health Education’s primary role is to support and develop quality health education practices. Various educational approaches are used by DHEC public health educators in teaching citizens about a wide variety of health care topics and facilitating community actions to improve health. Public Health Education organizes health education specialists to:

  • establish standards of practice, monitor performance, and take actions to assure quality
  • assess staff development and training needs and create plans for meeting those needs
  • provide consultation and technical assistance to regions, programs, and agency decision makers regarding personnel and strategic and operational planning, and
  • collaborate with other public health education professionals and public health organizations at the state and national level to advance public health education.

Senior level health education specialists provide staff support to two standing committees:

  • Professional Practice
  • Workforce Development

What Is Health Education All About?

Achieving the nation’s health objectives, Healthy People 2020 will depend on many factors. It will require a strong system of assessment and surveillance of public health problems. It will depend on increased capacity and infrastructure for public health. It will also require the delivery of well-developed health promotion and disease prevention interventions. Lifestyle and behavior changes are key factors for addressing many of the health problems facing the citizens of South Carolina. Interventions should be uniquely tailored to address the circumstances of a given population, person, and situation. Prevention makes good economic sense, paying returns in improved health and reduced health care costs.

Health educators encourage and help devise individual, group, institutional, and community strategies to improve health knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behavior among the population at large. These strategies may include policy, systems, and/or environmental changes. Health Education and Health Promotion not only include interventions directed at disease prevention and risk reduction but broad based community health improvement as well.

Special competencies are required to deliver quality health education interventions. Public Health Education utilizes professional preparation standards for each health education classification level. Other health professionals perform selected health education functions as part of their routine responsibilities, including paraprofessionals with specific and limited education tasks.