Purpose: To study the distribution, prevalence, determinants, and association between the health, social, and environmental concerns and risk behaviors of high school students in Jerusalem in order to provide a better basis for preventive and health promotion services. Methods: 1078 tenth grade high school students, 15-16 years old answered an anonymous questionnaire including perceived concerns and risk behaviors, (e.g., smoking, alcohol, drugs, and sexual activity). Concerns were grouped into six domains. Results: The most frequently reported concerns related to school, weight, coping with aggression, fatigue, war, enlistment into army, and relationships with peers. Girls had more concerns in the domains of self-image, anxiety, and relationships with peers (p < .05). Adolescents with mothers who had less education had significantly more concerns in the domains of anxiety and relationships with peers and adults (p < .05). Forty-seven percent engaged in at least one risk behavior (boys 63% and girls 34%). The Guttman scalogram indicated the following sequence of risk behaviors: alcohol, cigarettes, sex, and drugs. There were statistically significant associations between concerns and risk behaviors in the domains of anxiety, sex, and relationships with adults and peers. Conclusion: Many adolescent concerns are universal, although the ranking and prevalence may vary based on different regional and population characteristics (e.g., in this population a high rate of concerns relating to aggression and war were identified). The results support the need to develop prevention and health promotion programs relating to the concerns and risk behaviors in the school and community, and individual counseling programs in primary care settings.
- Risk behavior