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Int J Public Health. 2009 Sep;54 Suppl 2:131-9. doi: 10.1007/s00038-009-5404-x.

The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children: WHO Collaborative Cross-National (HBSC) study: origins, concept, history and development 1982-2008.

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  • 1Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Scotland.


This paper traces the history of the HBSC study from its origins in the early 1980's to the present day describing how it was first conceptualised scientifically and how this influenced issues of study design. The challenges of managing a cross-national study are explained as are changes and adaptations over time with growth of the study from 3 to over forty country members. The key partnership with the World Health Organisation and its benefits are presented. With developments in scientific management and theoretical perspectives, HBSC has made a substantial contribution to the area of youth health. The last decade has seen increased dissemination to policy makers and evidence that scientific information arising from the study has influenced strategic policy development and practical health improvement programmes. This paper considers some of the key success factors and challenges for the study as it attempts to maximise its scientific output and channels the research findings into health improvement for young people. Future challenges for the study are also considered.

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