The Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) study: Methodological developments and current tensions

Research and Evaluation Branch, Public Health Strategy Division, Department of Public Health and Health Professions, Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff, UK.
International Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.7). 08/2009; 54 Suppl 2(S2):140-50. DOI: 10.1007/s00038-009-5405-9
Source: PubMed


To describe the methodological development of the HBSC survey since its inception and explore methodological tensions that need to be addressed in the ongoing work on this and other large-scale cross-national surveys.
Using archival data and conversations with members of the network, we collaboratively analysed our joint understandings of the survey's methodology.
We identified four tensions that are likely to be present in upcoming survey cycles: (1) maintaining quality standards against a background of rapid growth, (2) continuous improvement with limited financial resources, (3) accommodating analysis of trends with the need to improve and adapt questionnaire content, and (4) meeting the differing requirements of scientific and policy audiences.
While these challenges are not trivial, the structure of the HBSC network and its long-term experience in working through such challenges renders it likely that HBSC can provide a model of other similar studies facing these tensions.


Available from: Saoirse Nic Gabhainn
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    • "The sample comprised all students from the fifth (mean age 11.6 years), seventh (mean age 13.6 years), and ninth grade (mean age 15.6 years), n = 7056. The students completed the internationally standardized HBSC questionnaire (Roberts et al., 2009) about sociodemographic factors, health, health-related behaviors, well-being, and social relations in the course of a lesson. The data file includes 6269 students with data about the applied variables. "
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    ABSTRACT: More children from lower social backgrounds are physically inactive than those from higher ones. We studied whether bullying was a mediating factor between lower social background and physical inactivity. We also examined the combined effect of low social class and exposure to bullying on physical inactivity. The Danish sample of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study 2006 included 6269 schoolchildren in three age groups: 11-, 13-, and 15-year-olds from a random sample of 80 schools. The students answered the internationally standardized HBSC questionnaire. The applied definition leaves 4.0% in the category physically inactive. The sex and age-adjusted OR (95% CI) for physical inactivity was 2.10 (1.39-3.18) among students with low social class and unclassifiable 3.53 (2.26-5.53). Exposure to bullying was associated with physical inactivity, sex and age-adjusted OR = 2.39 (1.67-3.41). Exposure to bullying did not explain the association between social class and physical inactivity. The association between social class and physical inactivity was more pronounced among participants also exposed to bullying. In conclusion, there was a significantly increased odds ratio for physical inactivity among students from lower social classes and for students exposed to bullying. There was a combined effect of low social class and bullying on physical inactivity.
    Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 10/2015; DOI:10.1111/sms.12574 · 2.90 Impact Factor
    • "Adolescents' participation in the study was voluntary, anonymous, and there were no explicit incentives provided for participation. The administration of the surveys was conducted according to standard guidelines from the HBSC survey protocol (Currie et al., 2008; Roberts et al., 2009), and was carried out by trained teachers during class time. "
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    ABSTRACT: In this study, we investigated the relationship between screen-based behaviours, physical activity, and health complaints (headaches, feeling low, irritability, and nervousness). Screen-based behaviour included TV viewing, computer use, and time spent playing video games. Data were collected from 4462 Portuguese adolescents (2394 girls) aged 11-16 years. Girls who reported engaging in more screen-based behaviour (hours/day) also reported having more headaches, feeling lower, being more irritable, and feeling more nervous. Boys who reported more screen time were more irritable. Physical activity (times/week) was negatively associated with reports of feeling nervous among girls, and with headaches, feeling low, irritability, and feeling nervous among boys. Considering that time spent using the computer is related with more health complaints, and physical activity was related with fewer health complaints among boys, it is important to develop strategies to reduce adolescents' computer screen time, and to promote physical activity. Copyright © 2015 The Foundation for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Adolescence 10/2015; 44:150-157. DOI:10.1016/j.adolescence.2015.07.018 · 2.05 Impact Factor
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    • "Surveillance of the health of school-aged children became the focus of research in the previous years in Germany and worldwide (e.g. KiGGS [1], HBSC [2], YRBSS [3]). However, these surveys focused solely on school-aged children, whereby most young adults often face a transition into adulthood when leaving school and their family environment to study at universities [4]. "
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Health of students has most often been neglected in recent studies, although students face a transition through life during their studies which has strong implications on health. During that time, universities play a key role as a setting where future professionals develop independence and learn skills possibly affecting their development and health. Nevertheless, less is known about this group in society. Consequently, the aim of this research project was to monitor the health of Health Sciences students through a long-term health surveillance system. METHODOLOGY: Since 2014, an almost complete convenience sample of Health Sciences students is being surveyed twice a year at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. A paper-pencil questionnaire, which includes questions about socio-demographics, well-being, health-promoting and health-risk behaviours, is being administered during courses. RESULTS: Our first survey achieved response rates of more than 97%. Up to 83% of enrolled students were reached. Undergraduate Health Sciences students reported health-risk behaviours, e.g. binge-drinking on 1 to 2 days (33.9%), regular cannabis use (4.2%), regular cognitive-enhancement (4.0%). Moreover, unhealthy diet was prevalent but almost all students were physically active. CONCLUSION: A short paper-pencil questionnaire administered during courses and conducted according to standardized processes provides complete data on students' health with little effort. Trends can be determined, which assist in making a decision of whether to take action in prevention and/or to evaluate campaigns. These first results show the need for a more targeted health promotion action for students.
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