Content analysis of school textbooks on health topics: a systematic review

Biosci Trends. 2011;5(2):61-8. doi: 10.5582/bst.2011.v5.2.61.


High-quality textbooks and learning materials are especially important for school children, but school textbooks may contain incorrect health information. The objective of this study was to review the findings of analytical studies about the contents of textbooks used in elementary, junior high, or high schools. Of 450 studies we screened, we reviewed 14 that met the inclusion criteria, and summarized information regarding: i) authors and publication year, ii) target country, iii) topics selected, iv) school level, v) textbook subject(s), vi) analytical methods, and vii) findings. Of the selected 14 studies, 9 were conducted in the United States and Spain. Health topics focused mainly on sexuality, HIV/AIDS, and nutrition. The reviewed studies were classified according to the amount of topic information they contained, the accuracy of the health information provided, and the health information priorities conveyed. The findings of reviewed studies can be summarized as follows: some current school textbooks provide insufficient content and contain inaccurate or out-of-date health information. This study found through health-related content analysis of the school textbooks that textbooks in the United States and Spain cover sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, and nutrition more often than do textbooks in other countries. Content quality is sometimes inappropriate and requires improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Health Education / standards*
  • Humans
  • Schools*
  • Textbooks as Topic / standards*