, Volume 54, Issue 2 Supplement, pp 140-150
Date: 30 Jul 2009

The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study: methodological developments and current tensions

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To describe the methodological development of the HBSC survey since its inception and explore methodological tensions that need to be addressed in the ongoing work on this and other large-scale cross-national surveys.


Using archival data and conversations with members of the network, we collaboratively analysed our joint understandings of the survey’s methodology.


We identified four tensions that are likely to be present in upcoming survey cycles: (1) maintaining quality standards against a background of rapid growth, (2) continuous improvement with limited financial resources, (3) accommodating analysis of trends with the need to improve and adapt questionnaire content, and (4) meeting the differing requirements of scientific and policy audiences.


While these challenges are not trivial, the structure of the HBSC network and its long-term experience in working through such challenges renders it likely that HBSC can provide a model of other similar studies facing these tensions.

Submitted: 03 November 2008; revised: 04 May 2009; accepted: 04 June 2009
Members of the International HBSC Study Group (Principal Investigators): Wolfgang Dür (AT), Lea Maes (BE-Fl), Danielle Piette (BE-Fr), Lidiya Vasileva (BG), William Boyce (CA), Marina Kuzman (HR), Ladislav Csémy (CZ), Pernille Due (DK), Antony Morgan (GB), Jorma Tynjälä (FI), Emmanuelle Godeau (FR), Ulrike Ravens-Sieberer (DE), Anna Kokkevi (GR), Birgit Niclasen (GL), Ágnes Németh (HU), Thoroddur Bjarnason (IS), Saoirse Nic Gabhainn (IE), Yossi Harel-Fisch (IL), Franco Cavallo (IT), Iveta Pudule (LV), Apolinaras Zaborskis (LT), Yolande Wagener (LU), Marianne Massa (MT), Wilma Vollebergh (NL), Oddrun Samdal (NO), Joanna Mazur (PL), Margarida Gaspar de Matos (PT), Adriana Baban (RO), Alexander Komkov (RU), Candace Currie (GB-SCO), Elena Morvicova (SK), Helena Jericek (SI), Carmen Moreno Rodriguez (ES), Ulla Marklund (SE), Emmanuel Kuntsche (CH), Lina Kostarova Unkovska (MK), Oya Ercan (TR), Olga Balakireva (UA), Ronald Iannotti (US), Chris Roberts (GB-WAL)