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J Adv Nurs. 2008 Jul;63(2):116-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2008.04634.x.

School-based drama interventions in health promotion for children and adolescents: systematic review.

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Department of Nursing Science, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.



The paper is a report of a review of the literature on the effects of school-based drama interventions in health promotion for school-aged children and adolescents.


Drama, theatre and role-playing methods are commonly used in health promotion programmes, but evidence of their effectiveness is limited. The educational drama approach and social cognitive theory is share the assumption that learning is based on self-reflection and interaction between environment and person. However, educational drama also emphasizes learning through the dialectics between actual and fictional contexts.


A search was carried out using 10 databases and hand searching for the period January 1990 to October 2006.


A Cochrane systematic review was conducted.


Nine studies met the criteria for inclusion. Their topics included health behaviour (five studies), mental health (two) and social health (two). Actor-performed drama or theatre play followed by group activities was the intervention in five studies, and classroom drama in four studies. Four of the studies were randomized controlled trials and five were non-randomized controlled studies. Four reports gave the theory on which the intervention was based, and in eight studies at least some positive effects or changes were reported, mostly concerning knowledge and attitudes related to health behaviour. The diversity of designs and instruments limited comparisons.


There is a need for well-designed and theory-based studies that address drama interventions in health promotion for children and families. The challenge is to find or develop a theory, which combines educational, drama and health theories with valid and reliable measurements to examine the effects of the intervention.

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