Development of an instrument for monitoring adolescent health issues

Abstract The aim of the project was to develop a survey instrument to monitor relevant health status and health-related behaviors among secondary school students. The development of the instrument occurred in three main phases: collection of existing surveys, workshops with relevant health professionals and focus groups with adolescents. The topics for inclusion were refined using Health Goals and Targets for Australian Children and Youth and consultations with health professionals, and included alcohol/illicit drug use, smoking, nutrition, exercise, injury, mental health, violence and sexual health. Content validity was demonstrated through a comprehensive literature review, review and application of existing instrumentation, dialog and exchange with health professionals, and focus groups with adolescents. The process of peer review through correspondence with health professionals, and the coordination of workshops and focus groups established face validity. Responses from students also indicated that they interpreted the questions as intended. The instrument was piloted in five secondary schools during class periods. Process evaluation was also conducted to determine the appropriateness of the survey and the procedures used in administering the survey. Feedback from school staff was supportive and favorable with respect to the choice of issues. Reliability was assessed by a test-re-test procedure 2 weeks apart. In general, most of the questions showed moderate to high reliability (kappa > 0.5) indicating agreement of 50% or greater. This instrument was developed as a monitoring instrument and places emphasis on determining prevalence levels of a range of health issues and health behaviors to assist with identifying clustering patterns of negative health outcomes. Although the instrument is primarily for use with students in school hours, the nature of the instrument allows modification for use in older groups of adolescents and out-of-school youth. The final version of the questionnaires for senior and junior students can be accessed via the Internet (http://; /qu estionnaire).
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