World Health Organization
Collaborative Cross-National Study


New report presents first data on sunburn, sun protection behaviours and sunbed use in under-18’s

17 June 2020

‌‌2020 Sun protection report IPH
HBSC Ireland data fetures in a new report published by the Institute of Public Health and NUI Galway’s Health Promotion Research Centre on sunburn, sun smart behaviours and sunbed use by children.

The report, Children’s exposure to ultraviolet radiation – risk profile for future skin cancers in Ireland, presents data on risk factors in Ireland for developing skin cancer in adult life

This report was developed to inform implementation of the National Skin Cancer Prevention Plan 2019-2022.

Data is presented principally from the 2018 Health Behaviours in School-Aged Children (HBSC) Survey, which reports health behaviours for those aged 10 to 17-years-old. The total sample size was 10,271.

Childhood sunburn, unprotected sun exposure and use of sunbeds increase the risk of developing skin cancers later in life. Repeated episodes of severe sunburn during childhood doubles the risk of developing melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – in later life. 

Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • Nearly 90% of 10 to 17-year olds said they have experienced sunburn in their lifetime. Around 74% said they experienced sunburn at least once during the past year.
  • Eight out of 10 schoolchildren reported wearing sunscreen, while seven out of 10 reported using sunglasses on sunny days.
  • The adoption of other sun protection measures, like covering up, wearing hats and avoiding peak UV hours, were less consistent.
  • 32% of schoolchildren reported that they avoided peak UV hours of the day.
  • Around 50% said they wore protective clothing to cover arms and legs when in the sun, while 17% reported never using sunscreen.
  • Girls were more likely to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, clothes that cover arms and legs as well as avoid peak UV hours. Boys were more likely to wear hats.
  • 3% of children said they used a sunbed in the last 12 months. The provision of sunbed services to children aged under 18 is contrary to Irish law as outlined in the Public Health (Sunbeds) Act 2014.
  • Six of the 10 warmest years in Ireland’s history have occurred during the childhoods of the current cohort of 18 to 20-year olds.
  • Climate research predicts hotter summers and more heatwaves. This may present elevating risk for UV skin damage, particularly in terms of childhood exposures during the summer school holidays.

See for more information, including a link to a recording of the launch webinar.

IPH Sunsmart infographic    

HBSC special issue published in Journal of Adolescent Health

12 May 2020

We are delighted to announce that a special issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health has been published to accompany the launch of the International HBSC report. This includes ten scientific journal articles and three commentaries, which are the first international publications from the 2018 datasets. You can find the special issue at

HBSC Ireland team member Colette Kelly is lead author of the following article on Youth Participation and several other articles are co-cuthored by HBSC Ireland Team members.

Kelly, C., Branquinho, C., Dzielska, A., Matos, M.G., Melkumova, M., Pavlova, D., Pickett, W., & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2020). Youth participation in the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children study. Journal of Adolescent Health, 66(6), S6-S8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2020.03.015 download


19 May 2020

The HBSC international report from the 2018 survey is now available. The Spotlight on Adolescent Health and Well-being provides data from 45 countries in Europe and Canada. Findings are presented on the health and social behaviours of almost 228,000 young people aged 11, 13 and 15 years.

In this new report Irish 11, 13 and 15 year olds are compared to those in 44 other countries across Europe and North America. Key comparative findings show that:

  • Irish children rank highly for eating breakfast and low for sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption at all ages. There have been significant reductions in sweets and soft drink consumption since 2014
  • Ireland ranks low at all ages for reported tobacco and alcohol use
  • Ireland ranks high relative to other countries in reported vigorous physical activity
  • Life satisfaction has significantly reduced since 2014, and Ireland ranks low for life satisfaction among 15-year olds
  • Ireland ranks highly for problematic social media use at all ages, and among 13 and 15 year olds, Ireland ranks highly for reports of having been cyberbullied.

See here for the Press release for Ireland (As Gaeilge) and the WHO EURO press release. Connect with us through ‎@hbscireland for updates.

Data collected for the study are based on surveys completed by thousands of adolescents, thereby ensuring that their voices and concerns can be taken fully into account when the WHO frames its European strategies, policies and actions for improving child and adolescent health and well-being. As the latest HBSC study, featuring findings from 2017/2018, is released, the world is grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. The next study, which will feature findings from 2022, will therefore reflect the impact of the pandemic on the lives of young people.

To access both Volume 1 Key Findings and Volume 2 Key Data of Spotlight on Adolescent Health and Well-Being, visit:


Recent Journal publication

February 2020

A new study, led by HBSC Ireland team member Dr András Költő linking patterns of romantic attraction with self-rated health and health symptoms, has been published in the Journal of LGBT Health. ‘Self-reported health and patterns of romantic love in adolescents from eight European countries and regions’ is the first study to examine adolescent romantic love patterns across multiple countries, and to test whether they are related to health outcomes.

Adolescents aged 15 years from eight European countries and regions (Bulgaria, England, France, French Belgium, Hungary, Iceland, North Macedonia and Switzerland) were asked if they had ever been in love and whether they had been in love with someone of the opposite gender, the same gender, both or neither. 

Commenting on the findings, lead author Dr András Költő stated: “This study suggests that bisexual young people and adults are even more affected by poor health than their lesbian and gay peers of the same age, and all sexual minority youth are faring considerably worse than their heterosexual peers. This is likely to be connected to the discrimination, prejudice and high levels of stress many LGBTI+ (the abbreviation stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex or belonging to other sexual or gender minority) young people experience in their everyday lives. We hope these findings will supplement Ireland’s National LGBTI+ Youth Strategy 2018-2020, the world’s first governmental strategy that aims to improve sexual and gender minority young people’s health and wellbeing.”

The data does not feature Irish youths but HBSC Ireland plan to present findings on Irish young people in the coming months. 

The article can be downloaded at:

HBSC Scotland 2018 National ReportCover HBSC scotland 2018 report

3 February 2020

We are delighted to welcome HBSC national report from partners in Scotland.

Inchley, J., Mokogwu, D., Mabelis, J., Currie, D. (2020) Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) 2018 Survey in Scotland: National Report. MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow download

HBSC England 2018 National ReportHBSC England 2018 report

30 January 2020

We are delighted to welcome HBSC national report from partners in England. 

Brooks, F., Klemera, E., Chester, K., Magnusson, J., & Spencer, N. (2020). HBSC England National Report: Findings from the 2018 HBSC study for England. Hatfield, England: University of Hertfordshire. download

HBSC Ireland 2018 National Report

9 January 2020

HBSC Ireland 2018 National Report coverThe 2018 HBSC Ireland Report is launched today Thursday 9 January 2020 by Minister for Health Simon Harris TD and Minister for Health Promotion Catherine Byrne TD . 

Download the full report here:
Költő, A., Gavin, A., Molcho, M., Kelly, C., Walker, L., & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2020). The Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study 2018. Dublin: Department of Health & Galway: Health Promotion Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway. download (5,699KB)

A copy of the launch presentation by András Költő is also available to download‌ (2001KB)

Download the press release ‌download (392KB)

Check our twitter page: @hbscireland 

Health in Ireland: Key Trends 2019

January 2020

HBSC Ireland data is included in Health in Ireland: Key Trends 2019 published by the Department of Health.  The report touches on several areas, including demographics, population health, hospital and primary care, employment and expenditure and highlights the significant achievements that Ireland has made for key health outcomes in the past decade. download

Adolescent Health and Development in the WHO European Region: Can we do better?

July 2019

HBSC Ireland data is featured a new report from the WHO European Regaion. The report  supports countries in the European Region to take action to improve their adolescents’ health and development. The report provides a rationale for investing in children 10–19 years old in the context of the Global Accelerated Action for the Health of Adolescents (AA-HA!) and investing in children the WHO European strategy for child and adolescent health (2015–2020).

Scott, E., Whitehead, R., Aleman-Diaz, A.Y., & Weber, M. (2019). Adolescent health and development in the WHO Europen Region: Can we do better? Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe, 2019.  download

Recent Presentations

June 2019

HBSC team member Kiah Finnegan presented findings from an online survey regarding schools preferences for online or paper questionnaires for future HBSC studies at the recent Annual Health Promotion Conference: Building a Healthy Ireland: promoting health and welling being in educational settings.
Finnegan, K., Gavin, A., Kolto, A., Kelly, C., & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2019). Should the Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) data collection move online? Presented at the 23rd Annual Health Promotion Conference: building a healthy Ireland: promoting health and wellbeing in educational settings, NUIG Galway, June 2019. download (564KB)

AK Iceland presentationAt the recent HBSC Spring Network Meeting held in Reykjavik, Iceland between 18-20 June 2019, HBSC Ireland Senior Postdoctoral Researcher Dr Andras Kolto received Special Commendation for his presentation on LGBTI+ equality and perceived health of young people. 

Kolto, A., & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2019). LGBTI+ equality and self-reported health of 15-year-old adolescents in eight European countries. download (2044KB)

UNESCO report "Behind the Numbers: Ending School Violence and Bullying"

February 2019

A new report ‘Behind the numbers: Ending school violence and bullying’ published  by UNESCO found bullying is a widespread problem that no society in the world is immune from. The publication provides an overview of the most up-to-date evidence on school violence and bullying, including global and regional prevalence and trends from the HBSC study and GSHS survey, and of evidence from successful national responses to school violence and bullying.

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