Original Article

The prevalence of health risk behavior engagement among grade 4 to 7 learners in primary schools: A phase one needs analysis

Kurt J. Daniels, Hamilton Pharaoh
Journal of Public Health in Africa | Vol 14, No 11 | a54 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4081/jphia.2023.2328 | © 2024 Kurt J. Daniels, Hamilton Pharaoh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 March 2024 | Published: 30 November 2023

About the author(s)

Kurt J. Daniels, Department of Physiotherapy, University of Kwazulu‑Natal, School of Health Sciences, Westville, South Africa
Hamilton Pharaoh, Department of Physiotherapy, University of Kwazulu‑Natal, School of Health Sciences, Westville, South Africa

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Abstract

Health risk behaviour, as it pertains to adolescent behaviour, poses a massive challenge for many fields of medicine, not only due to developmental and psychological concerns but also its inevitable contribution to the burden of disease through trauma and non‑communicable diseases resulting from risky behavioural choices. The objective study is to explore the prevalence of health risk behavior engage‑ ment among grade 4‑7 learners at four primary schools in the Western Cape, South Africa, as well as establish a need for a prevention program starting at primary school level. An observational, descriptive, quantitative design was used to conduct this study. Non‑probability, heterogenous, purposive sampling was used to select the study population. A needs analysis assessment using a modified self‑administered Child Health Risk Behaviour survey was conducted using 7‑inch electronic tablets. Four primary schools agreed to participate yielding a total sample size of n=1147 learners in grades 4 to 7. Learners' age ranged from nine years old to fourteen years old with a mean age of 11.45 (SD 1.271). Riding a bicycle without a helmet, physical fight (86.1 and 64.1% among boys and girls respectively), ever smoked a cigarette (boys 36.3%; girls 28.3%) and consuming alcohol without permission (boys 28.7%; girls 23.8%) had the most engagement. Sexual curi‑ osity questions had by far the most positive engagement and consistency of engagement among both boys and girls. This evidence reaffirms the need that early, bespoke and scientific intervention/prevention programs are needed to combat health risk behaviour and subsequently reduce the burden of disease.

Keywords

risky behaviour; prevention; youth; child; intervention

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