“Dr. Hoenikker used to say that any scientist who couldn’t explain to an eight-year-old what he was doing was a charlatan.”
Dr. Breed in Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut


Resources that “work”

The primary school resources are created for late primary school children (10 to 12 year olds). We developed the resources between 2013 and 2015, using a human-centred design approach with several cycles of prototyping, pilot testing and feedback from children, teachers and other stakeholders in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Norway.

We evaluated the effects of these resources in Uganda, where we randomly allocated half of 120 schools (over 10,000 year-five students). Teachers taught the lessons over a period of nine weeks, with one double lesson (80 minutes) per week during a single term. We compared the ability of the children in those schools to apply 12 of the Key Concepts to the ability of the children in the other schools, and found a large positive effect [Nsangi 2017a]. In a follow-up study, we found that this effect was sustained after one year.

Project partners are translating, adapting and evaluating resources for use in other languages and settings. We welcome new partners.


The Health Choices Book
This textbook for primary school children (10 to 12 year olds) includes a comic story that introduces and explains 12 Key Concepts, instructions for classroom activities, exercises, a list of key messages, and a glossary. Translations: Spanish, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, Norwegian, French, Italian, Greek, CroatianBasque, Persian, Brazilian-Portuguese

Chapter 2: Personal experiences
This is an animated version of Chapter 2 of the Health Choices Book.


Teachers’ Guide
This guide includes lesson plans and other resources to help teachers using The Health Choices Book. Translations: Spanish, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, French, Italian, Brazilian-Portuguese


Exercise Book 
This includes the exercises from The Health Choices Book. Translations: Spanish, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, French, Italian, Greek, Brazilian-Portuguese


Activity Cards
These cards are for use in Lesson 7 of the The Health Choices Book. The activity is created to demonstrate how comparisons with few people can be misleading. Translations: Spanish, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, French, Italian, Greek, Brazilian-Portuguese


Checklist Poster
This poster with the key messages from The Health Choices Book is a checklist for applying the 12 Key Concepts and a reminder of the most important messages in the book. Translations: Spanish, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, French, Italian, Greek, Brazilian-Portuguese

Think Carefully about Treatments
Song credits: Informed Health Choices team & Swangs Avenue

The lyrics of this song are another reminder of the key messages in the book.

Built around 12 Key Concepts

At the beginning of the work to develop these resources, our first step was to identify a set Key Concepts that people need to understand and apply to be able to assess treatment claims and make informed healthcare choices. We then determined that 24 of those concepts are relevant to primary school children. Based on the findings from pilot testing, we reduced the number of concepts addressed in the resources to 12 concepts (see below), with the intention of developing additional resources in the future to introduce new concepts and reinforce understanding of those concepts. This approach is consistent with the principles of a spiral curriculum.

The 12 Key Concepts that are taught in the IHC primary school resources:

Recognising claims about the effects of treatments that have an unreliable basis

• Treatments may be harmful
• Personal experiences or anecdotes (stories) are an unreliable basis for assessing the effects of most treatments
• Widely used treatments or treatments that have been used for a long time are not necessarily beneficial or safe
• New, brand-named, or more expensive treatments may not be better than available alternatives
• Opinions of experts or authorities do not alone provide a reliable basis for deciding on the benefits and harms of treatments
• Conflicting interests may result in misleading claims about the effects of treatments

Understanding whether comparisons of treatments are fair and reliable 

• Identifying effects of treatments depends on making comparisons
• Apart from the treatments being compared, the comparison groups need to be similar at the beginning of a comparison (i.e. ‘like needs to be compared with like’)
• If possible, people should not know which of the treatments being compared they are receiving
• Small studies in which few outcome events occur are usually not informative and the results may be misleading
• The results of single comparisons of treatments can be misleading

Making informed choices about treatments

• Decisions about treatments should not be based on considering only their benefits

See also:
List of all Key Concepts (2019 version)
List of 24 Key Concepts relevant to primary school children


Contact us

Contact us if you would like to:
Translate or adapt these resources
Print the resources in high resolution
– Receive a test that can be used to assess the ability of children to apply the 12 Key Concepts


See also our Podcast for parents


IHC learning resources are in the The eGranary Digital Library, an off-line information store that provides instant access to over 35 million digital resources for those lacking adequate Internet connections.