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CMAJ. 1986 Mar 1;134(5):489-93.

Health concerns and health-related behaviours of adolescents.


Health promotion and treatment programs for adolescents must be tailored to the unique concerns and needs of this population. A questionnaire was mailed to 1000 adolescents aged 12 to 20 years in the Ottawa-Carleton region; 729 responded, giving information on their health concerns and habits. The teenagers reported worrying mostly about chronic conditions such as acne, menstrual disorders, emotional problems, dental problems and being overweight. Some of these conditions can be treated if care is sought. The psychosocial problems most important to the adolescents were school and family problems. Girls tended to report health concerns more often than boys, but there was little variation by age or social group. Although the proportions of adolescents who were smoking cigarettes, drinking alcoholic beverages or using "recreational" drugs or who had ever had sexual intercourse were relatively high, the number of respondents who perceived such habits as health problems was low. There was a low level of concern about birth control among the respondents, including those who indicated that they had had sexual intercourse. The fact that significantly more girls than boys reported that they smoked and had engaged in sexual intercourse suggests specific targets for health promotion activities.

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