HBSC Study 2020: Key Findings from New ‘Spotlight on Adolescent Health and Well-being’ Report

HBSC Study 2020: Key Findings from New ‘Spotlight on Adolescent Health and Well-being’ Report

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Spotlight on Adolescent Health and Well-being, the latest findings from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study were released today. This WHO collaborative cross-national study has provided information about the health, well-being, social environment and health behaviour of 11-, 13- and 15-year-old boys and girls for over 30 years. The 2017/2018 survey collected data from over 220,000 young people in 45 countries and regions in Europe and Canada. The Irish cohort of the study is commissioned by the Department of Health and undertaken by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway.

The authors of the study noted that drinking and smoking have continued to decline, but the number of current users remains high among 15-year-olds. While “alcohol and tobacco use increase dramatically between ages 13 and 15 in both genders.” This corroborates our own Index data (2019) which found that the average age of first drink in Ireland is 15 years and is on a decreasing trajectory. The report also notes that affluence is associated with higher levels of alcohol consumption, “which is likely explained by greater accessibility and affordability.”

In other findings, Irish teens (11-15-year-olds) rank in the international top ten in terms of cyber-bullying and ‘problematic social media use’. A decline in mental health and wellbeing as adolescents grow older was highlighted, with girls particularly at risk of having poor mental wellbeing outcomes, compared to boys.

Key findings in Ireland

Here are the findings relating to alcohol use among 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds in Ireland, alongside comparisons between the HBSC 2014 data.

11-year-olds

  • 4% of 11-year-old girls reported that they have ‘ever drunk alcohol’ (down from 6% in 2014; 2018 average is 10%), compared to 10% of boys (down from 13%; avg. is 19%). HBSC total avg. is 14%.
  • 1% of 11-year-old girls reported that they have 'drunk alcohol in the last 30 days’ (no change from 2014; 2018 average is 3%), compared to 2% of boys (down from 4%; avg is 7%). HBSC total avg. is 5%.
  • 0% of 11-year-old girls reported having ‘been drunk at least twice’ (0% in 2014; avg. is 2%), with an equal 0% of boys (down from 2%; avg. is 1%). HBSC total avg. is 1%.
  • 0% of 11-year-old girls have reported 'being drunk in the last 30 days’ (no change from 2014; avg. is 1%), with an equal 0% of boys (down from 1% in 2014; avg. is 2%). HBSC total avg. is 1%.

13-year-olds

  • 13% of 13-year-old girls reported that they have ‘ever drunk alcohol’ (down from 16% in 2014; avg. is 29%), compared to 18% of boys (down from 20%; avg. is 34%). HBSC total avg. is 32%.
  • 4% of 13-year-old girls reported that they have 'drunk alcohol in the last 30 days’ (no change from 2014; avg. is 13%), compared to 5% of boys (down from 7%; avg. is 5%). HBSC total avg. is 14%.
  • 2% of 13-year-old girls reported having ‘been drunk at least twice’ (no change from 2014; avg. is 3%), with an equal to 2% of boys (no change from 2014; avg. is 5%). HBSC total avg. is 4%.
  • 2% of 13-year-old girls have reported 'being drunk in the last 30 days’ (no change from 2014; avg. is 3%), with an equal 2% of 13-year-old boys (no change from 2014; avg. is 4%). HBSC total avg. is 4%.

15-year-olds

  • 51% of 15-year-old girls have ‘ever drunk alcohol’ (up from 46% in 2014; avg. is 59%), with an equal 51% of boys (no change from 2014; avg. 60%). HBSC total avg. is 59%.
  • 24% of 15-year-old girls reported that they have 'drunk alcohol in the last 30 days’ (up from 23% in 2014; avg. is 36%), compared to 22% of boys (down from 23%; avg. is 38%). HBSC total avg. is 37%.
  • 16% of 15-year-old girls reported having ‘been drunk at least twice’ (no change from 2014; avg. is 18%), compared to 14% of boys (down from 16% in 2014; avg. is 22%). HBSC total avg. is 20%.
  • 9% of 15-year-old girls have reported 'being drunk in the last 30 days’ (down from 11% in 2014; avg. is 13%), with an equal 9% of boys (down from 11%; avg. is 16%). HBSC total avg. is 15%.

Download the full report