How do Students Conceptualize Health and its Risk Factors? A Study among Iranian Schoolchildren

Document Type: Original Article


1 Research Center for Modeling in Health, Institute of Futures Studies in Health, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

2 Kerman Medical Student Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran

3 Physiology Research Center, Kerman University of Medical Sciences

4 Health Deputy, Kerman University of Medical Sciences, Kerman, Iran


To assess the concept of children concerning their health and its risk factors, a group of primary and middle school students were asked to draw a few relevant pictures in order to deeply explore the comprehension of this key group.
In this cross-sectional study 1165 students, aged 7-15 years old, selected through random stratified sampling, were asked to draw a number of eight paintings, four paintings on health concepts, and the other four on health risk factors. The paintings were then assessed by two independent observers, and their themes and contents were abstracted and analysed.
The students drew a total of 2330 paintings, 1165 paintings on the concept of health, and 1165 paintings on health risk factors. The most and least expressed health concepts concerned “mental health” and “healthy diet” (73.3% and 4.8%, respectively). Considering health risk factors, “unhealthy diet” and the two concepts of “environmental hazards” and “neglected personal hygiene” had the most (95%) and least (1.4% each) frequencies. Students in public schools, primary level and girls drew more pictures about health concept or/and its risk factors (P<0.05). The association between parents’ education level and the numbers of pictures were not statistically significant.
Although students had a broad view about health and its risk factors, generally little attention had been paid to some of the main aspects such as physical activity, healthy diet, mental and oral health, and environmental hazards. In addition, it seems that parents’ educational level, as one of the main socio-economic factors, did not have any significant impact on their concepts.


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