Health concepts of elementary school pupils in Austria

An explorative study using the draw and write technique

Gesundheitskonzepte von VolksschülerInnen in Österreich

Eine explorative Studie unter Einsatz der Mal- und Schreibtechnik

Summary

Studies analysing health concepts of children are scarce. Thus, the aim of this study was to analyse health concepts of elementary school children in Austria. In all, 240 pupils in grades 2 (7 or 8 years old) and 4 (9 or 10 years old) of three rural and three urban elementary schools in Styria took part in this explorative study. Differences were analysed using multivariate analyses. Girls associated health more often with nature than did boys, and pupils in grade 2 drew illness-related symbols more often than those in grade 4. Children attending an urban elementary school signalled preventive behaviour more often than children in rural areas. Our results showed that children in Austria, overall, have a positive concept of health, but they also reveal differing health concepts between the groups. Public health programs should take into account the differences in health concepts to implement more effective preventive intervention programs in schools.

Zusammenfassung

Es gibt nur wenige Untersuchungen hinsichtlich der Gesundheitsvorstellungen von Kindern. Deshalb war das Ziel der vorliegenden Studie, die Gesundheitsvorstellungen von VolksschülerInnen in Österreich zu untersuchen. Insgesamt 240 SchülerInnen der zweiten (7- und 8‑Jährige) und vierten Klassen (9- und 10-Jährige) in 3 ländlichen und 3 städtischen Volksschulen wurden untersucht. Unterschiede wurden mittels multivariater Varianzanalysen berechnet. Mädchen assoziierten Gesundheit häufiger mit Natur als Buben, und SchülerInnen der zweiten Klasse zeichneten öfter krankheitsrelevante Symbole als die der vierten Klasse. Kinder, die eine städtische Volksschule besuchten, nannten häufiger präventive Verhaltensweisen als SchülerInnen in ländlichen Regionen. Unsere Ergebnisse zeigten, dass Kinder in Österreich insgesamt positive Gesundheitsvorstellungen haben, offenbarten jedoch unterschiedliche Gesundheitskonzepte zwischen Gruppen. Gesundheitsförderungsprogramme sollten die Unterschiede hinsichtlich der Vorstellungen von Gesundheit berücksichtigen, um effektivere präventive Maßnahmen in Schulen zu implementieren.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the school inspector of the State of Styria for authorizing our study. Moreover, we thank all participating schools, directors, teachers, and elementary school children.

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Correspondence to PD Mag. Dr. Nathalie Burkert MA.

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N.T. Burkert, K. Unterleitner, É. Rásky, and M. Sprenger declare that they have no competing interests.

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N.T. Burkert, K. Unterleitner and É. Rásky contributed equally to this work.

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Burkert, N., Unterleitner, K., Rásky, É. et al. Health concepts of elementary school pupils in Austria. Wien Med Wochenschr 170, 203–211 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10354-019-0702-2

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Keywords

  • Health concepts
  • Elementary school children
  • Draw and write technique
  • Austria

Schlüsselwörter

  • Gesundheitskonzepte
  • VolksschülerInnen
  • Mal- und Schreibtechnik
  • Österreich