Inequalities and health behaviours

Consultants, I believe, are fond of saying, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it," and I have a lot of sympathy with that view. So, while Government target-setting may be reduced, the need for recent, local figures is not.
We have often been asked to investigate the differences in the patterns of habits between members of different schools and different counties. Of greater recent interest has been to examine differences between pupils of different backgrounds or different identities. Through these analyses it may be hoped that clients get a better grasp of local patterns, and an insight into what to do about them.
An example of this analysis is shown here. We selected a number of measures of inequality:

  • Living in an area of known high deprivation (two parishes)
  • Few books at home
  • Ethnic minority
  • Single parent family
  • Young carer
  • Own mobile phone and have Internet at home

We then looked at a variety of measures to see if the selected groups seemed any different from the whole sample. The last group of course we might hope is free of deprivation.

 

All Y10

Deprivation area

Few books at home

Ethnic minority

Single parent

Young carer

Mobile+ Internet

Generally happy with life

66

63

56

46

59

79

68

Want to be in education full-time post-16

48

43

*32

50

*30

16

49

Regular paid job during term-time

42

39

56

42

40

26

42

Nothing at all to eat or drink

14

18

11

19

10

17

15

5+ portions of fruit/vegetables yesterday

21

21

13

38

13

26

22

Consider health when choosing what to eat

15

13

8

6

9

16

16

Exercised hard 3+ times last week

28

24

22

33

22

5

29

Main source of sex information = ideal source

62

65

62

71

64

53

56

Sexually active

25

29

*45

*50

33

32

23

Aware of local sexual health service

78

81

67

86

85

74

80

Often feel afraid going to school because of bullying

3

5

*10

0

2

5

3

Victim of violence or aggression last year

10

10

22

23

17

5

9

Carry protection when going out

7

6

10

8

2

11

6

Drank alcohol last week

47

48

56

64

45

53

46

Smoked last week

44

*55

*62

50

*58

45

40

Ever used drugs

14

20

*30

27

23

16

12

N

447

152

74

21

59

19

354

* Difference from whole Y10 result is statistically significant (p
Some points to note:

  • Deprivation generally is associated with more health-risky behaviour and less health-promoting behaviour.
  • Some of the unmarked differences look quite interesting (particularly in the Ethnic Minority column) but the sample sizes are not large enough for us to say with sufficient confidence that the differences are real and not due to chance
  • Of all the measures of inequality, the one producing the most significant differences is how many books are there at home: we have no direct measure of social class or deprivation in this particular study, but when we do, this is usually found to be a major source of differences.
     

Author: 

DrDave

Comments about SHEU

"Over the last twenty years you have achieved much. The surveys and subsequent reports have painted the clearest picture we have of what young people are doing and what they think." OFSTED 1998

OFSTED

"One year (following the SHEU survey) responses from our Year 4 cohort caused us concern, so we put in place a number of team building, motivational projects. We then assessed their effectiveness by requesting the SHEU questionnaires for these pupils as Year 5's."

Learning Mentor

"We use the data to inform whole school practice: Pastoral programmes for target groups of pupils; Items for discussion with School Council; Information to help us achieve the Healthy School gold standard; To develop and dicuss with pupils our Anti-Bullying Policy; Targeted whole class sessions with the Police Community Support Officers; To share pupil perceptions of all aspects of their school life with parents, staff and governers." 

Learning Mentor

"Please send an additional copy of our report - it is the most requested and borrowed item in the whole library." Health Promotion Unit

Health Promotion Unit

"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

"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

"The children found the survey very interesting and enjoyed doing it." Class Teacher

Class teacher

"The Unit is to be congratulated in preparing ... material of the highest standard and worthy of wide dissemination." National Association for Environmental Education

National Association for Environmental Education

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your work regarding writing and compiling the sex education survey. The survey was well executed and the schools have found their individual reports very helpful. The results of the survey have enabled the Local Campaign Group to justify the need for young men's campaigns and given us invaluable insight as to the thoughts and experiences of this target group."

Teenage Pregnancy Strategy Manager