Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Adolescents' Health Behaviours and Its Associations with Psychological Variables

Academic journal article Central European Journal of Public Health

Adolescents' Health Behaviours and Its Associations with Psychological Variables

Article excerpt


Objective: The purpose of the study was to investigate the prevalence of health risk behaviours among a random sample of Korean adolescents and the relationship of psychological variables with health risk behaviours.

Methods: 885 students ranged from 7th to 9th grade were randomly selected from 3 junior high schools in Dobong-gu district, Seoul. Four Korean-version measures were used to assess the health risk behaviour and psychological variables of adolescents. Frequency analysis, correlation analysis, and regression analysis were performed to accomplish the purpose of the study.

Results: Korean adolescents showed high prevalence of physical inactivity (n=67%), smoking (n=54%), drinking alcohol (n=69%), eating problem (n=49%), mental health problem (n=57%), and viewing pornography (n=47%). In addition, this study revealed that the three psychological variables (multidimensional health locus of control, self-efficacy, and self-esteem) were significantly correlated with health risk behaviours, and had significant effect to account for health risk behaviours (R^sup 2^=0.42 for physical inactivity, 0.33 for viewing pornography, 0.31 for smoking, 0.28 for mental health problems, 0.26 for illegal drug use, 0.19 for drinking alcohol, and 0.15 for eating problem).

Conclusion: The current study provides significant information on psychological variables related to adolescents' health risk behaviour. This study has the potential to influence the development of better health education and promotion programs for adolescents.

Key words: health risk behaviours, health locus of control, self-esteem, self-efficacy, Korean adolescent


Adolescence is a time of rapid physical, psychological and social change. These multiple changes promote exposure to some new health risk behaviours such as physical inactivity, smoking, drinking alcohol, illegal drug use, and sexual activity. Thus, adolescence is a key life stage for shaping health in adulthood and in later life and, at the same time, it is in itself a stage of risk for morbidity and mortality (1).

It has been noted and well documented that many health risk behaviours are often initiated during the adolescent years and the initiation of risk behaviours is occurring at progressively younger age. A large volume of study indicated that the rates of smoking, drinking alcohol and drug use during adolescence have remarkably increased since 1980s, and many adolescents experienced health risk behaviours at markedly earlier ages (2, 3). US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the primary students aged 9 to 1 3 years have already experienced alcohol drinking and smoking (respectively, 36%, 12%). For the adolescents aged 14 to 18 years, they have shown a very high prevalence in alcohol use. Seventy seven percent of adolescents have ever experienced drinking alcohol, and among them, 17% of adolescents reported drinking alcohol every day or 1-2 per week (4). Unlike to Western countries, the data related to adolescent health behaviour in Korea are limited. The available data, however, demonstrate similar trends to the Western ones. Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare indicated that 43% of adolescents aged 14-18 years have experienced smoking. Among them, 53% are males and 25% are females (5). In addition, one national survey concerning sexual behaviours of general adolescents revealed that 3 1% of students aged 10 to 13 years in the primary schools have already experienced porno movies and 48% of the secondary school students aged 14 to 18 years have ever contacted with pornography through the computer. Among them approximately 17% of students aged 17 to 18 years have substantially experienced sexual intercourse (6).

Traditionally, in many areas of public health a number of studies aimed at understanding why the majority of adolescents initiate health risk behaviours have attempted to identify study participants' socioeconomic characteristics associated with risk behaviours (7, 8). …

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