Home > Third HBSC study reports findings.

Mongan, Deirdre (2007) Third HBSC study reports findings. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 24, Winter 2007 , pp. 14-15.

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The third Irish HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-aged Children) study,1 conducted in 2006 by the Health Promotion Research Centre in the National University of Ireland, Galway, was published in August 2007. HBSC is a cross-national research study conducted every four years in collaboration with the World Health Organization, and in 2006 there were 41 participating countries and regions.  The overall aims of the HBSC are to gain insight into and increase understanding of young people’s health and well-being, health behaviours and their social context.  

HBSC is a school-based survey with data collected through self-completed questionnaires administered by teachers in the classroom. The sampling frame consisted of primary and post-primary schools.  A two-stage process identified study participants: individual schools within regions were first randomly selected, and class groups were then randomly selected for participation.  Sixty-three per cent of invited schools and 83% of students sampled participated in the 2006 HBSC survey. Data were collected from 10,334 children aged 10–18 years on topics including general health, smoking, use of alcohol and other substances, food and dietary behaviour, exercise and physical activity, self-care, injuries and bullying. This article describes the results pertaining to the use of alcohol and other substances, and makes comparisons with the previous HBSC surveys.  

Overall, 47% of children reported that they had never had an alcoholic drink, up from 40% in 2002 and 31% in 1998. The percentage of girls (52%) reporting that they had never had an alcoholic drink was higher than that for boys (43%), and there was little evidence of a social class effect.  This is the only variable that showed a marked change from previous HBSC studies.  The proportion of children reporting having had an alcoholic drink in the past month (defined as current drinkers) was 26%.  This has remained stable between 2002 and 2006, except in the case of 15–17-year-old boys, where a small decrease is evident.  

Children were asked if they had ever been ‘really drunk’.  In total, 32% of children reported having been drunk, with large age differences but little variation by gender or social class; 5–7% of 10–11-year-olds and 53–58% of 15–17-year-olds reported ever being drunk, with little change since 2002.  One in five children reported being drunk in the previous 30 days, with large differences between age groups.  Over a third of boys and girls aged 15–17 reported being drunk in the previous 30 days.  

This report also studied cannabis use among children.  Overall, 16% of children reported using cannabis during their lifetime, compared with 12% in 2002; 12% reported using cannabis in the past 12 months, compared with 11% in 2002.  Cannabis use was highest for those aged 15–17, with about one in five in this age group using cannabis in the previous 12 months.  There was little evidence of a social class effect.  The rates of reported cannabis use are similar to those in the 2002 HBSC study, except among 15–17-year-old boys, where a decrease is evident.  

Seven per cent of children reported using cannabis in the previous 30 days.  This was slightly higher for boys (8%) than for girls (5%).  Those aged 15–17 were more likely to report recent cannabis use than younger children.  A clear social class effect was evident among 15–17-year-old boys regarding recent cannabis use; 10% of boys in the highest social class grouping reported recent cannabis use compared to 15% in the lowest social class grouping.

In conclusion, there was little marked change between 2002 and 2006 in reported alcohol and cannabis use, except in the percentage that had never had an alcoholic drink, which increased over the period.  In general, there appeared to be little evidence of a social class effect, except in the case of cannabis use in boys aged 15–17 years.  Similarly, there were few gender differences, except in the case of children who had never had an alcoholic drink.  

1 Nic Gabhainn S, Kelly C and Molcho M (2007) The Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study 2006. Dublin: Department of Health and Children.

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 24, Winter 2007
Date:October 2007
Page Range:pp. 14-15
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 24, Winter 2007
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:G Health and disease > State of health
T Demographic characteristics > Adolescent / youth (teenager / young person)
VA Geographic area > Europe > Ireland
VA Geographic area > International aspects
L Social psychology and related concepts > Lifestyle
T Demographic characteristics > Student (secondary level)
T Demographic characteristics > Student (primary level)
A Substance use, abuse, and dependence > Prevalence > Substance use behaviour

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