Adolescents' perceptions of the words 'health' and 'happy'

O'Higgins, Siobhan
Sixsmith, Jane
Nic Gabhainn, Saoirse
O'Higgins, S., Sixsmith, J., & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2010). Adolescents' perceptions of the words 'health' and 'happy'. Health education, 110(5), 367-381.
Purpose - The shared language of youth includes understandings of concepts that can be different from those of adults. Researchers, in their efforts to explore and illuminate the health behaviours and decision-making processes of young people, use generic terms in their data collecting protocols. This study aims to explore what adolescents understand by the words 'healthy' and 'happy'. Design/methodology/approach - Semi-structured interviews were conducted in three post-primary schools with 31 students aged 12 and 13 years. Drawing on a grounded theory approach, interviews were transcribed and subjected to thematic content analysis. Findings - The students provided a description and explanation of what health and happiness meant to them and how they intended to maintain both as they grew older. Perceptions of these two concepts were found to contain gendered nuances. This was clear in relation to descriptions of how friends were part of well-being; the girls were more likely to talk about feeling restricted and resentment at being treated like children and only the boys talked of looking forward to things. Originality/value - In order to gain an understanding of young people's perspectives about what matters and what influences their health behaviour, a clearer view of the different perspectives held by researcher and researched needs to be established.
Publisher DOI
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Ireland