World Health Organization Collaborative Cross-National Study


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.

Growing Up in Ireland

October 2018

The latest report from the Growing Up in Ireland study is launched today (17 October 2018). The report The Lives of 13-Year-Olds highlights significant inequalities with socially disadvantaged children and makes several references to HBSC Ireland data.

Recent WHO Reports

October 2018

In addition to the recent report 'Adolescent Alcohol-related behaviours: trends and inequalities in the WHO European Region 2002-2014'  (see below for more information) the WHO have published a number of other reports that contain HBSC Ireland data:

Trends and inequalities in adolescent alcohol behaviours across Europe

September 2018

A new report launched on September 26th by the World Health Organisation European Office includes data from HBSC Ireland on alcohol use among schoolchildren in Ireland between 2002 and 2014. Overall the report demonstrates that alcohol consumption, early initiation and drunkeness are decreasing across Europe and that there are fewer gender differences in alcohol behaviour than in the past. Of particular relevance are very substantial (around 20%) reductions in drunkeness among adolescents in Ireland between 2002 and 2014.
“To ensure the successes achieved so far are maintained, governments are urged to adopt approaches which engage the population at all ages. In addition, more efforts are needed, particularly in countries where the rate of change has been slow. Investments in adolescent health pay off with a triple dividend of benefits for adolescents – now, for their future adult lives and for the next generation.” Carina Ferreira Borges | WHO Regional Office for Europe Programme Manager for Alcohol and Illicit Drugs 
The full report can be downloaded from 

Alcohol use, unhealthy eating signal youths' sexual activity: study

September 2018

An article in the Irish Examiner on Saturday September 1st reports on HBSC Ireland findings on adolescent sexual health. The piece, written by Noel Baker,  refers to the recently published journal article 'Socio-demographic, health and lifestyle factors influencing age of sexual initation among adolescents' in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.  The study looks at the relationship between socio-demographic, health and lifestyle factors, and the timing of first sexual intercourse among 15 to 17-year-olds, using data in the 2014 Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children Ireland study of 879 sexually active adolescents.

Both articles can be downloaded here:

Alcohol use, unhealthy eating signal youths' sexual activity: study - Irish Examiner

Burke, L., Nic Gabhainn, S. & Kelly, C. (2018). Socio-demographic, health and lifestyle factors influencing age of sexual initation among adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 15(9), 1851 download

32nd EHPS annual conference

August 2018

EHPS 2018 HBSC Ireland team members

HBSC Ireland was well represented at the recent European Health Psychology conference. Team members Lorraine Burke, Colette Kelly and András Kolto all presented at the conference held in NUIG Galway from 21st - 25th August 2018. The conference theme was Health Psychology Across the Lifespan: Uniting Research, Practice and Policy.

View the presentations here:

Burke, L., Kelly, C. & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2018). Cultural and health factors associated with early sexual initation. download (354KB)

Kelly, C. (2018). School food environments and adolescent health. download (864KB)

Kolto, A. & Nic Gabhainn, S. (2018). Romantic attraction and psychocomatic symptoms in adolescents from eight European countries. download (825KB)

Youth Smoking in Ireland: a special analysis of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study

June 2018

2018 youth smoking - special analysis of HBSC
This report prepared on behalf of the Tobacco Free Ireland Programme, Health Service Executive  was launched at the Tobacco Free Ireland Partners Conference held to mark World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2018). Read the full report Youth Smoking in Ireland - A Special Analysis of the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) Study.

President's Award for Societal Impact 2017

Group photo of societal impact award

The President's awards for Societal impact was launched in its first year in 2017.  There were three individual awards and one group award presented. The HBSC Ireland team were winners of the group award. Click here for more information about the award.

20 Years of Adolescent Health in Ireland

February 2018

The HBSC study has been running in Ireland since 1994 with the first data collected in 1998. Writing for RTÉ News, Andras Kolto looks back on what we have learnt about the health of the nation's youth over the last 20 years. Here are some highlights:

Decline in damaging risk behaviours

  • The proportion of young people who smoke fell from 28% in 1998 to just 8% in 2014.

  • There has been a 25% decrease in the proportion of young people who had their first cigarette age 13 or younger.

  • In 1998, one in three children reporting to have ever been drunk. In 2014 this number is down to one in five.

  • We have seen a 20% decrease in the number of young people reporting their first alcoholic drink aged 13 or younger.

  • The prevalence of bullying others in the last couple of months fell from 25% in 1998 to 13% in 2014.

Rise in health promoting behaviours

  • Since 1998 there has been a small rise, from 18% to 23%, in the proportion of young people who eat fruit more than once a day.

  • Regular toothbrushing (more than once a day) has risen from 59% to 69% of young people.

  • Seatbelt use has increased. In 2014, 80% of young people said that they always use their seatbelt when in a car. In 1998 this was true for as little as 35% of young people.

Supportive social contexts

  • In 1998, 73% of adolescents said they found it easy to talk to their mother about things that bother them. This had risen to 82% by 2014.

  • The increase was even more pronounced with communication with fathers, climbing from 47% to 69% for the same period.

  • 72% of young people reported that they liked school in 2014, compared with 68% in 1998. However, the proportion feeling pressured by schoolwork has risen from 33% to 43%.

 The full article can be accessed at

A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents

November 2017

A Familiar Face UNICEF report on violence against children

A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents uses the most current data to shed light on four specific forms of violence: violent discipline and exposure to domestic abuse during early childhood; violence at school; violent deaths among adolescents; and sexual violence in childhood and adolescence. HBSC Ireland data on bullying is included in this report.

The statistics reveal that children experience violence across all stages of childhood, in diverse settings, and often at the hands of the trusted individuals with whom they interact on a daily basis.  Ensuring that violence in all its forms is recognized as a fundamental violation of children’s human rights and documented through solid data is a first step towards its elimination.

United Nations Children’s Fund. (2017). A Familiar Face: Violence in the lives of children and adolescents. New York: UNICEF. download

For more information see:
UNICEF: A Familiar Face
Key Findings
Data visualisation

Adolescent boys and girls happier in countries with high levels of gender equality

October 2017

HBSC Ireland data features in a newly published study based on 34 countries that reveals adolescent girls and boys are happier in countries with higher levels of gender equality. The study, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, highlights the consistent cross-national variation in adolescent life satisfaction across Europe and North America, which has remained poorly understood.

The study reveals that, while taking economic factors such as national wealth and income inequality into account, adolescents have a higher life satisfaction when living in countries with high levels of gender equality, compared to countries with low levels of gender equality.

Not only girls, but also boys appear to benefit from higher levels of societal gender equality. The study furthermore shows that the association between gender equality and adolescent life satisfaction can be explained by social support within the family, peer and school context. 

Adolescent health: behaviours, outcomes and social context

19 July 2017

 HBSC team member Colette Kelly has posted a blog for SPHeRE (Structured Populations and Health-services Research Education). The post Adolescent health: behaviours, outcomes and social context reports on some of the findings of the recent HBSC report Trends in Health Behaviours, Health Outcomes and Contextual Factors between 1998-2014: findings from the Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study.