Adolescent Health: The Role of Individual Differences

Adolescent Health: The Role of Individual Differences

Adolescent Health: The Role of Individual Differences

Adolescent Health: The Role of Individual Differences


Adolescence is one of the most turbulent yet exciting phases in life. This book explores how individual differences contribute to health and illness across a wide range of cultures and socio-economic backgrounds.


This book is about how psychological factors are linked to illness among adolescents. Adolescence is enjoying increasing research focus and interest as evidenced by the number of publications on the teenage years. This book looks at those behaviours that have implications for the physical and mental health of young people. The theme in this volume is that one cannot divorce illness from the individual and the approach that is therefore taken is unashamedly psychosocial.

Chapter 1 sets the context for the discussions that follow. It introduces the reader to definitions of health as well as how conceptions of health and illness develop in young people. It also discusses the idea that the teenage years are a time of health risk. In the second chapter the need for and importance of health education are raised, as are various health education strategies that are available. The bulk of the chapter is taken up with models of health behaviour, that is, it discusses psychological models that have been proposed to explain why individuals engage in the health-related behaviours they do.

The rest of the chapters deal with specific behaviours and the risks they pose to health including the psychological factors that give rise to these behaviours. Included are stress and coping, body image and eating behaviours, sex and the threat of AIDS, substance use, schizophrenia, depression, suicide, and lifestyle factors, namely exercise and diet. Chapter 9, very briefly, makes some suggestions for enhancing adolescent health.

I am indebted to others who have assisted in one way or another with this book. Firstly, I thank Dr John Coleman who agreed to include this volume in his Adolescence and Society Series. I would also like to thank colleagues (and former colleagues) for their useful discussions. In particular, I would like, as always, to thank my family for their love and support.

Patrick Heaven

Wollongong, New South Wales

March, 1995

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