Developing a medicine education program in Finland: lessons learned

Health Policy. 2006 Oct;78(2-3):272-83. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2005.11.007. Epub 2005 Dec 13.


The aim of this article is to describe the process of developing a medicine education program for elementary and middle schools in Finland and the lessons learned during the process. Further described is how teachers evaluated the usefulness of the medicine education materials created during the process. By medicine education we mean education about the proper use of medicines, abuse of medicines being just a small part of it. The development process started in 2002 by conducting focus group discussions with children in order to discover how children of different ages understand medicine-related topics. Moreover, teachers completed questionnaires in 2002 to assess their opinions about the importance of medicine education as a part of school health education. Based on the results of these two studies, materials were created during 2002-2003 (, in Finnish with an English introduction). These materials gave the teachers information about the proper use of medicines and some ideas for assignments. As a last part of this research project in autumn 2003, the materials were piloted by a group of elementary and middle school teachers (n=14), and the usefulness of the materials were evaluated during focus group discussions after a teaching period. Based on the evaluation, we learned that the Website should contain a simple structure and ready-to-use materials in order to be used by teachers. Moreover, the fact that teachers need information in order to be able to teach this unfamiliar topic became clear. Teachers of younger children need concise information, but teachers of adolescents need more in-depth information. Furthermore, teachers may have negative attitudes towards medicines, and therefore, medicine education should be rationalized for them. We conclude our article with recommendations on what should be taken into consideration when medicine education programs are planned.

MeSH terms

  • Finland
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Education / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Program Development*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools*