A needs assessment of public health professionals: supporting the implementation of Ontario 2010 revised elementary health and physical education curriculum
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Based on the Comprehensive School Health framework, Ontario's Foundations for a Healthy School (2009) outlines an integrated approach to school health promotion. In this approach the school, community and partners (including public health) are fully engaged With a common goal of youth health. With the recent introductions of the Ontario Public Health Standards (2009) and the revised elementary health and physical education curriculum (2010), the timing for a greater integration of public health with schools is ideal. A needs assessment was conducted to identify the perceived support required by public health professionals to implement the mandates of both policy documents in Ontario. Data was collected for the needs assessment through facilitated discussions at a provincial roundtable event, regional focus groups and individual interviews with public health professionals representing Ontario's 36 public health units. Findings suggest that public health professionals perceive that they require increased resources, greater communication, a clear vision of public health and a suitable understanding of the professional cultures in which they are surrounded in order to effectively support schools. This study expands upon these four categories and the corresponding seventeen themes that were uncovered during the research process.