Guernsey's Young People

Two decades of SHEU Health-Related Behaviour Surveys
The Schools Health Education Unit (SHEU) have been working with the colleagues from the Bailiwick of Guernsey for two decades now, and our survey work has accumulated a database of over 10,000 cases.  These have mostly been whole-population lifestyle surveys but some have been focussed on particular topics or groups.
David Regis and I recently visited Guernsey to summarise the findings of these surveys and the trends they show, and to compare the trends seen in Guernsey with those seen in the SHEU databanks from mainland UK.  
There was lots to say!  Some trends found in Guernsey were also seen in the UK, but some were found only in one data set, or much more plainly in only one set. One of the great things about working in Guernsey is the possibility of concerted action.  While Angela and David were talking they could see significant glances being passed between the departments of education and health, and between politicians.  
Smoking trends
Perhaps the best example to look at is the figures for smoking.  There was a sharp drop in reported smoking levels, across both age group and genders, in Guernsey between 1997 and 2002.
Data from the SHEU’s UK databanks do not show a sharp drop over the same period but a smaller drop, for the older pupils, in later years.
Professionals and politicians in Guernsey can take full credit for this achievement, because they took a number of actions to tackle smoking in young people.
Tobacco package
In 1996 the States supported a 'tobacco package' brought by the Board of Health, which included:
* Advertising ban at point of sale (from Nov. 1997)
* Increase in Tobacco Excise Duty (1997)
* Raising of legal age of purchase in January 1997
  accompanied by publicity about test purchases
* Smoking cessation initiatives (Nicotine Replacement
  Therapy, Guernsey Quitline)
* Guernsey Adolescent non-Smoking Package (GASP),     
    including 'Smokebusters' in all primary schools, and a 

    programme for use with older pupils (in and out of school
    settings)
* Continued activity by Parents Against Tobacco, including involvement of a local sports figure
  affected by smoking-related illness.
The Bill and its associated activities was described at the time as 'the most important precedent in tobacco control in the Western World in recent years'.  This collection of recent, relevant and vigorous anti-smoking activity is undoubtedly a plausible explanation of the drop in smoking levels seen between 1997 and 2002.
We looked at many other findings, which  can be summarised as follows:
* Figures for Guernsey were often better than reference sample.
* Changes we have seen in Guernsey includes a rise in scores for self-esteem,
     eating vegetables, awareness of sexual health services, girls' soccer, and
     perhaps also a rise in levels of exercise
* We have seen falls in levels of cannabis use as well as smoking tobacco.
     There is still a challenge to be faced of young people's use of alcohol,
     something Guernsey shares with the rest of the UK.
Guernsey has shown that concerted local effort can bring results.  From our point of view in SHEU, we are happy to see how regular survey work is used to prompt and monitor good work with young people.

Author: 

Angela

Comments about SHEU

"This week I have been working on a major strategy for service design -- it is easy to get solely focussed on hospitals, performance targets, and work force planning -- all very important; but at the same the needs of young people and how we need to work across agencies to address the health needs of today and tomorrow must be recognised. SHEU is founded to do just this."

PCT Performance Manager

"It's good to talk with you again - we used so much of those data and did so much with it in schools - we really got the place buzzing!"

Consultant in Public Health

"SHEU data proved the best source of the kind of information we were looking for (...) to provide research support to the National Healthy Schools Programme." 

Department of Health

"The (named) Children and Young People's Partnership has benefitted from the results of the SHEU survey locally for many years now, and we should like to continue to do so in future."

Consultant in Public Health Medicine

(Our) Senior team were very enthused with the rich source of data provided within the reports (and thought that the analyses including within the appendices section of the main reports were really interesting).

Health Improvement Specialist (Children, Schools and Families)

"...the only question to cause a problem was 'has everyone got a pen?" Supervisor's notes following a school survey

Supervisor's Notes

"The Health Related Behaviour Survey is an incredibly useful resource for (us) as it provides schools, with invaluable data which can inform curriculum content, methods of lesson delivery and empower schools to better meet the needs of their pupils."

Health Education Advisor

"We were talking about (the SHEU survey) data at our recent NSCoPSE Conference, for PSHE advisers and consultants. It would be really helpful if some of this powerful data and the trends could be shared in the consultation around the PSHE Review. Colleagues shared their very positive experiences of (the SHEU survey). It provides excellent evidence of behaviour change for children and young people and of the impact of PSHE and wider interventions."

Personal and Social Development Consultant

"We have never consulted our young people like this before. The survey makes a great contribution to our 'best value' planning." Sports Development Officer

Sports Development Officer

"The credit goes to you for the fabulous information the survey yields!"

Assistant Director Schools and SEN