, Volume 163, Issue 8, pp 485-494
Date: 25 May 2004

Perceived health status in a Turkish adolescent sample: risk and protective factors

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to investigate health status of Turkish adolescents and to determine the factors affecting their self perceptions of health. The subjects of the study were 4,153 grade 9–11 students from 26 randomly selected high schools in Istanbul. In total, 78% (n=3231) and 62% (n=2537) of the students reported that they were feeling healthy and happy, respectively. Prevalence of headache, abdominal pain and backache; feeling low, irritable, nervous and dizzy; medication use for headache, abdominal pain and nervousness were higher in females than in males (P<0.05 for each comparison). Prevalence of difficulty in getting to sleep and medication use for it were quite similar in both genders. Perceived higher socio-economic status, feeling happy and exercising longer than 2–3 h a week were found as protective factors related to feeling healthy for both genders. In females, ease of talking to mother and perceived adequate parental support on school matters and in males, ease of talking to father and satisfaction with body size were protective factors related to feeling healthy, respectively. Cigarette smoking and having headaches put feeling healthy at risk in both genders. In females, feeling left out of things, having backache and dizziness and medication use for nervousness and in males, feeling pressured by school work, abdominal pain and difficulty in getting to sleep were risk factors related to feeling healthy, respectively. Conclusion: the findings of this study suggest that a significant number of Turkish adolescents perceive themselves as not very healthy and experience psychosomatic symptoms. Perception of health differed to some extent according to gender. Programmes promoting health-related activities and coping strategies with parental participation need to be developed for improving health in high school students.