BACKGROUND: School health services (SHS) can be defined as health services provided to enrol pupils by health professionals and/or allied professions. The aim of this study was to explore the current state of the governance, organization and workforce of SHS and their provision of preventive activities in European countries.
METHODS: Observational study. Data were collected as part of the Horizon 2020-funded project 'Models of Child Health Appraised'. Only 1 expert from each of the 30 included European countries answered a closed-items questionnaire during the years 2017 and 2018.
RESULTS: All countries (except Spain and the Czech Republic, which do not have formal SHS) provided school-based individual screening and health-enhancing measures. The majority performed height, weight, vision and hearing checks; some integrated other assessments of limited evidence-based effectiveness. Most countries also delivered health education and promotion activities in areas, such as sexual health, substance use and healthy nutrition. Almost all countries seemed to suffer from a shortage of school health professionals; moreover, many of these professionals had no specific training in the area of school health and prevention.
CONCLUSIONS: Many EU countries need better administrative and legal support. They should promote evidence-based screening procedures and should hire and train more school health professionals. Overall, they need to adapt to the evolving health priorities of pupils, adopt a more holistic paradigm and extend their activities beyond traditional screening or vaccination procedures.