Health promotion in primary and secondary schools in Denmark: time trends and associations with schools' and students' characteristics

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BACKGROUND: Schools are important arenas for interventions among children as health promoting initiatives in childhood is expected to have substantial influence on health and well-being in adulthood. In countries with compulsory school attention, all children could potentially benefit from health promotion at the school level regardless of socioeconomic status or other background factors. The first aim was to elucidate time trends in the number and types of school health promoting activities by describing the number and type of health promoting activities in primary and secondary schools in Denmark. The second aim was to investigate which characteristics of schools and students that are associated with participation in many (≥3) versus few (0-2) health promoting activities during the preceding 2-3 years.

METHODS: We used cross-sectional data from the 2006- and 2010-survey of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. The headmasters answered questions about the school's participation in health promoting activities and about school size, proportion of ethnic minorities, school facilities available for health promoting activities, competing problems and resources at the school and in the neighborhood. Students provided information about their health-related behavior and exposure to bullying which was aggregated to the school level. A total of 74 schools were available for analyses in 2006 and 69 in 2010. We used chi-square test, t-test, and binary logistic regression to analyze time trends and differences between schools engaging in many versus few health promoting activities.

RESULTS: The percentage of schools participating in ≥3 health promoting activities was 63% in 2006 and 61% in 2010. Also the mean number of health promoting activities was similar (3.14 vs. 3.07). The activities most frequently targeted physical activity (73% and 85%) and bullying (78% and 67%). Schools' participation in anti-smoking activities was significantly higher in 2006 compared with 2010 (46% vs. 29%). None of the investigated variables were associated with schools' participation in health promoting activities.

CONCLUSION: In a Danish context, schools' participation in health promotion was rather stable from 2006 to 2010 and unrelated to the measured characteristics of the schools and their students.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number93
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2015

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