Adolescents’ perspectives on environmental and individual factors influencing their health behaviours




Family, School, Adolescents, Health behavior


Adolescence is an important life phase in which future patterns of adult health are established. Therefore, there is a need to understand the barriers and enhancers of adolescents’ health to better support their development. We explored adolescents’ perspectives on factors influencing their health behaviours using a qualitative descriptive approach. In-depth interviews were conducted with 22 junior high and high school students in Northern Alberta, who had participated in a 2015/16 Youth Health Survey. Thematic analyses revealed three themes: 1) knowledge, 2) contextual factors (home environment and school environment) and 3) individual factors (self-motivation and personal responsibility). Overall, the students were extensive in their description of healthy lifestyles, but their use of this knowledge was dependent on contextual and individual factors. They described the importance of the home and school environment in supporting healthy lifestyles, particularly by providing the right kind of knowledge and opportunities to cultivate and maintain a healthy lifestyle. They also identified self-motivation and personal responsibility as individual factors of influence on their health behaviours and practices. The students placed a great emphasis on personal responsibility for their health behaviours, despite the necessity of environmental and social supports for encouraging healthy lifestyles. School-based health promotion programs, which take a comprehensive health approach fosters a supportive environment for healthy lifestyle behaviours.