The role of school-based health education in adolescent spiritual, moral, social and cultural development

Kayleigh Chester, Elene Klemera, Josefine Magnusson, Neil Spencer, Fiona Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
59 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The broad nature of young people’s development is internationally acknowledged, which includes physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social elements. In England, schools have a legal obligation to promote spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) development. It has been suggested that personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, a broad form of school-based health education, may contribute to building SMSC development in young people. Objective: To examine the association between PSHE education in schools and outcomes of an SMSC nature. Method: The study drew on data collected as part of the 2014 World Health Organization Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study for England. Data were collected from young people aged 11, 13 and 15 years, using anonymous self-completed surveys administered during school lessons. The analysis drew on responses from 3,731 young people. Multilevel modelling was used to examine the association between PSHE education and variables of an SMSC nature, while controlling for demographic variables. Results: Overall, the majority of young people who reported receiving PSHE education were positive about the benefits of this school-based health education. Positive perceptions of PSHE education were significantly associated with increased spirituality among young people, reduced engagement in both fighting and bullying perpetration and increased general self-efficacy. Conclusion: This paper highlights the important role that health education in a school context may have for young people’s broader development, and contributes to the national evidence base advocating for compulsory PSHE education in schools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)582-594
Number of pages13
JournalHealth Education Journal
Issue number5
Early online date24 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Adolescent development
  • PSHE education
  • health education
  • spirituality
  • young people


Dive into the research topics of 'The role of school-based health education in adolescent spiritual, moral, social and cultural development'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this