Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children

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The HBSC research network is an international alliance of researchers that collaborate on the cross-national survey of school students: Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC). The HBSC collects data every four years on 11-, 13- and 15-year-old boys’ and girls’ health and well-being, social environments and health behaviours. These years mark a period of increased autonomy that can influence how their health and health-related behaviours develop.

The research venture dates back to 1982, when researchers from England, Finland and Norway agreed to develop and implement a shared research protocol to survey school children. By 1983 the HBSC study was adopted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe as a collaborative study. HBSC now includes 43 countries and regions across Europe and North America.

This research collaboration brings in individuals with a wide range of expertise in areas such as clinical medicine, epidemiology, human biology, paediatrics, pedagogy, psychology, public health, public policy, and sociology. The approach to study development has therefore involved cross-fertilization of a range of perspectives.

As such, the HBSC study is the product of topic-focused groups that collaborate to develop the conceptual foundations of the study, identify research questions, decide the methods and measurements to be employed, and work on data analyses and the dissemination of findings.

Indicator based research

Behaviours established during adolescence can continue into adulthood, affecting issues such as mental health, the development of health complaints, tobacco use, diet, physical activity levels, and alcohol use. HBSC focuses on understanding young people’s health in their social context – where they live, at school, with family and friends. Researchers in the HBSC network are interested in understanding how these factors, individually and together, influence young people’s health as they move from childhood into young adulthood.

The international standard questionnaire produced for every survey cycle enables the collection of common data across all participating countries and thus enables the quantification of patterns of key health behaviours, health indicators and contextual variables. These data allow cross-national comparisons to be made and, with successive surveys, trend data is gathered and may be examined at both the national and cross-national level. The international network is organized around an interlinked series of focus and topic groups related to the following areas:

  • Body image
  • Bullying and fighting
  • Eating behaviours
  • Health complaints
  • Injuries
  • Life satisfaction
  • Obesity
  • Oral health
  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour
  • Relationships: Family and Peers
  • School environment
  • Self-rated health
  • Sexual behaviour
  • Socioeconomic environment
  • Substance use: Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis
  • Weight reduction behaviour


2009/10 International Report: Social determinants of health and well-being among young people

2005/06 International Report: Inequalities in Young People’s Health

2001/02 International Report: Young People’s Health in Context

The HBSC Ireland Trends Report 1998–2010

HBSC 30th Anniversary Summary Report

Russia Launch

The Russian language launch of the 2009/2010 HBSC/WHO International Report took place today (15.02.13) at the World Trade Center in Moscow as part of the XVII summit of Russian Pediatricians. The launch event, over two days, included a presentation from Prof Cadance Currie (HBSC International Coordinator) on the global, regional and Russian significance of the findings as part of a symposium entitled ‘Pediatric health care in Russia: trends, risks, problems’. Prof Currie’s presentation slides will be made available on the HBSC slideshare page from 16/2/13. Additionally Vivian Barnekow (Programme Manager, WHO regional Officer for Europe) took part in a policy-maker’s roundtable entitled ‘Meeting of the Expert Council on pediatrics and hygine’.

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