Influences on the Health-Related Beliefs and Behaviours of Schoolchildren: Implications for Health Education

Fyfe, Carol (1989) Influences on the Health-Related Beliefs and Behaviours of Schoolchildren: Implications for Health Education. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The project described in this thesis examines the health education taught to children in upper primary school classes in Greater Glasgow, and the health-related beliefs and behaviour patterns of a cohort of 10-12 year old children attending primary schools in the city. Health education practice is assessed in the light of recent recommendations concerning the most appropriate approach and content for health education in schools. A detailed discussion is presented of the theoretical and conceptual issues fundamental to this area of research. This discussion explores definitions of health and then centres around an examination of various influences on health-related behaviour, concentrating in particular on health education. An attempt is also made to clarify some of the semantic confusion which exists in the literature. Evaluation of health promotion initiatives is required not only to assess effectiveness but also as a means of improving materials and methods, minimising waste of resources, and examining the approach adopted. Several barriers to the evaluation of health promotion initiatives are discussed. Rigorous experimental conditions are often unattainable in the field; a 'quasi-experimental' approach is often necessary and is, in some circumstances, even preferable. There is a need for the evaluation of processes, rather than concentration solely on outcome. Moreover, outcome needs to be assessed in relation to objectives, which will often be educational rather than epidemiological in nature. The project described here is comprised of three separate but related studies. 1) Survey of health education in upper primary schools in Greater Glasgow: This survey served as an update of a study carried out by other researchers in 1982. Postal questionnaires were sent to head teachers and class teachers in all 313 primary schools located within Greater Glasgow. Data were thereby gathered relating to the availability and use of materials for health education, methods adopted for health education, and teachers' perceptions of the relative importance of a range of health-related issues. Overall, 89% of teachers had taught some health education during the school year studied (1985/86), although for 60% of these this involved a total of no more than 20 hours' teaching. More than a quarter of those teaching health education depended solely on 'incidental' methods to do so, and only 16% indicated that their school had a structured scheme for health education. Compared with the findings of the 1982 survey, however, a wider range of topics were being covered, and more teachers were adopting a centre-of-interest or project-based approach to health education. The most widely-used material for health education in the present survey was 'Jimmy on the Road to Super Health' which was used by 44% of those teaching health education. Teachers placed greatest emphasis on the preventive aspects of health education (rather than on the promotion of well-being), and on the physical (rather than the mental or social) facets of health. 2) Study of the health-related beliefs and behaviour patterns of upper primary school children in Greater Glasgow: This study involved the participation of 920 children (aged 10-11), in Primary 6 classes in a random sample of primary schools in Greater Glasgow, in the completion of a questionnaire administered in school in 1987. A follow-up study involving the same children was carried out the following year. Particular emphasis was placed on the issue of cigarette smoking and on the identification of factors associated with this behaviour. An open-question approach, not previously adopted in studies of cigarette smoking among schoolchildren, was used to investigate what issues were perceived by the children to be important in relation to cigarette smoking, and also what 'being healthy' meant to them. In Primary 6, 76%, and in Primary 7, 62%, of children reported that they had never smoked a cigarette. There was no significant difference between the proportions of boys and girls who had tried smoking, although those boys who had tried had generally done so at a younger age than had the girls. Similarly, the proportions of boys and girls who intended to become regular smokers in the future did not differ significantly from each other. Overall, 15% of Primary 6 respondents and 17% of Primary 7 respondents indicated an intention to become smokers. Several factors were found on multiple logistic regression analysis to be associated with trying smoking for the first time after the study in Primary 6 and before the follow-up in Primary 7. These were: intending to be a smoker; having a father, mother or older brother who smokes; and perceiving a high prevalence of smoking among peers. These were not the factors perceived to be most important by the respondents---they emphasised the 'image' of smoking, and the attitudes and example of friends as the main reasons for becoming a smoker. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Public health, Health education
Date of Award: 1989
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1989-77902
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2020 12:09
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2020 12:09

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