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Michigan Model for Comprehensive School Health Education

Ages 5-18

Rating: Level 3


The Michigan Model for Comprehensive School Health Education (Michigan Model) facilitates interdisciplinary learning through educational lessons that integrate health education into other curricula, including language arts, social studies, science, math, and art. Lessons emphasize active student participation, especially in developing and practicing role-play strategies. The program is for K–12 students and is designed for implementation as part of the core school curriculum. The goals of the program are to establish a single application for school-based youth prevention programs; provide a common language and approach for parent, community, and student health programs; and reinforce prevention messages from a variety of sources.

The Michigan Model curriculum uses a building block approach, building on skills and knowledge in 14 content areas identified by the Michigan Department of Education. These areas are Safety and First Aid Education, Nutrition Education, Family Health, Consumer Health, Community Health, Human Body Growth and Development, Substance Use and Abuse, Personal Health Practices, Emotional and Mental Health, Disease Prevention and Control, Environmental Health, Senses, Plant Education, and Transportation Education. Each area is further divided into subgroups within the curriculum.

The model contains 43–58 classroom instructional lessons per year. Each lesson lasts 30 to 45 minutes, depending on grade level. The educational materials include lessons that incorporate knowledge, attitude, and skills-based instruction as well as social and emotional learning. The Michigan Model’s comprehensive health approach has a building-block format that introduces, fully develops, and then reinforces key health promotion and prevention messages over a period of years. Parent and family involvement pieces are also included as part of student instruction in key content areas. The program includes violence prevention lessons throughout the elementary grades and two complete modules for grades 7–8 and 9–12 that cover conflict resolution skills and safety in violent situations, sexual harassment, and abusive relationships. There are also modules in grades 7–8 and 9–12 on tobacco and alcohol, nutrition, physical activity, and HIV/AIDS. Healthy sexual development is also covered.


Although the Michigan Model is a comprehensive curriculum, evaluations to date have concentrated on substance use and abuse. The program evaluation used an untreated nonequivalent comparison group quasi-experimental design with a pretest and posttest. Random assignments to experimental and control groups of equal sizes were sought but not achieved in every district. Instead, students were assigned by classroom to receive the curriculum or to be in the comparison group. The total sample consisted of roughly 1,000 students in four school districts who completed questionnaires on each of four occasions: 6th grade pretest, 6th grade posttest, 7th grade posttest, and 12th grade posttest (934). Of the total sample, 442 had completed either both years of the intervention or neither year, and thus were eligible for the program evaluation. Of the 442 students, 262 (59 percent) completed both the original pretest and the 12th grade follow-up. Thus the final sample included a total of 262 students, with 187 of the participants receiving the Michigan Model curriculum and 75 participants being placed in the comparison group. The sample was 48 percent male and 94 percent white, with a mean age of 12. Within this sample, there were no significant differences between the treatment groups on demographic variables or on pretest levels of the outcome variables of interest. Data was collected from a self-administered questionnaire that assessed demographic information as well as use of tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs. The questionnaire also queried participants about knowledge on the effects of substances, pressures to use them, and skills with which to refuse offers to use them. The data was examined through the use of repeated measures. Analyses of variance were conducted to identify differential rates of change of time between the treatment group and the comparison group.


Evaluation results showed that the Michigan Model curriculum was effective in the short term, significantly slowing increasing rates of alcohol use and misuse, cigarette smoking, cocaine use, and other drug use. Compared with the comparison group, students in the treatment group in sixth and seventh grades demonstrated significantly smaller increases in the frequency of use of all substances (alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, cocaine, and other drugs) at the end of the seventh grade. In addition, students in the treatment group increased their knowledge of alcohol pressures, effects, and skills to resist more than their counterparts in the comparison group. While these successful outcomes were observable in the 7th grade posttest, the differences between the groups diminished by the 12th grade posttest (after several years of no intervention.) The only exceptions were gender-specific effects; treatment girls’ cocaine use was lower than the controls’ and treatment boys had greater knowledge than the controls.

Risk Factors


  • Favorable attitudes toward drug use/Early onset of AOD use/Alcohol and/or drug use


  • Availability of alcohol and other drugs


  • Peer alcohol, tobacco, and/or other drug use
  • Peer rejection

Protective Factors


  • Healthy / Conventional beliefs and clear standards
  • Perception of social support from adults and peers


  • Clear social norms / Policies with sanctions for violations and rewards for compliance
  • Rewards for prosocial community involvement


  • Department of Education
  • Hamilton Fish Institute


Shope, Jean T., Laurel A. Copeland, Mary E. Kamp, and Sylvia W. Lang. 1998. “Twelfth Grade Follow-Up of the Effectiveness of a Middle School–Based Substance Abuse Prevention Program.” Journal of Drug Education 28:185–97.

Shope, Jean T., Laurel A. Copeland, B.C. Marcoux, and Mary E. Kamp. 1996. “Effectiveness of a School-Based Substance Abuse Prevention Program.” Journal of Drug Education 26:323–37.

Shope, Jean T., B.C. Marcoux, and J. Thompson. 1990. Summary of Results of an Evaluation of the Substance Abuse Lessons in the Michigan Model. Mount Pleasant, Mich.: Central Michigan University.


Karen Krabill Yoder
Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Family and Community Health
Lewis Cass Building, Sixth Floor
320 South Walnut Street
Lansing, MI 48913
Phone: (517) 335-8908
Fax: (517) 335-8294
Web site: