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Arch Hellen Med, 24(3), May-June 2007, 270-290


Pilot study on surveillance of youth health-risk behaviors questionnaire

1Department of Public and Administrative Hygiene, National School of Public Health, Athens,
2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, National School of Public Health, Athens, Greece

OBJECTIVE Adolescence is the period in human development, in which beliefs, behaviors and attitudes are adopted and, if established, are maintained throughout adulthood. The launching and regular implementation (e.g. every two years) of a national surveillance system, which describes and estimates health-risk behaviors among youth is essential, in order for appropriate programs and interventions to be developed by the state. Evaluation is reached, by translation, adaptation and pilot testing, in Greece, of the questionnaire that the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed and runs biannually since 1991 in the USA. In this way its suitability will be assessed, for future administration to a representative sample of Greek high school students, as a tool in the surveillance of youth health-risk behaviors that may lead to the adoption of unhealthy habits, which contribute to the leading causes of death, disability, and social problems among youth and adults.

METHOD The questionnaire was translated and revised to reflect national priorities and cultural characteristics by the research group and bilingual public health professionals and high school teachers. It comprises items about primary youth health-risk behaviors (personal safety, violence, depression, alcohol use, sexual behaviors, AIDS education, body weight, nutrition and physical activity). In the survey, 334 high school students, aged 14 to 22, participated voluntarily and anonymously in the presence of the researchers, in the classroom. The students attended urban and suburban Secondary Education units (General: 52.7% and Technical: 44.9%), mainly in Attica (89.8) and Viotia (6.6) and were girls (69%) and boys (31%) of Greek (84%) and other (16%) nationality.

RESULTS During the data collection no difficulties were encountered and minimal clarification to the questions was requested. Student response rates ranged from 98.32% to 99.62%, with an average of 98.97%. Reliability, expressed as the internal consistency of the whole questionnaire (Cronbach coefficient =0.81) and of each subject, was high. Validity was checked by factor analysis, which revealed satisfactory to high correlation between the items of each subject (loadings over 0.45) and was similar to that of the CDC survey.

CONCLUSIONS The questionnaire has a high response rate, is brief, clear, comprehensible, coherent, reliable and valid. It may be administered, in order to portray and evaluate the prevalence of certain priority health-risk behaviors, among 15-18 year-old students.

Key words: Adolescence, Health risk behaviors, Pilot study, Questionnaire, Surveillance.

© Archives of Hellenic Medicine