The HBSC Study

Who we are

The HBSC research network is an international alliance of researchers that collaborate on the cross-national survey of school students: Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC). The HBSC collects data every four years on 11-, 13- and 15-year-old boys’ and girls’ health and well-being, social environments and health behaviours. These years mark a period of increased autonomy that can influence how their health and health-related behaviours develop.

The research venture dates back to 1982, when researchers from England, Finland and Norway agreed to develop and implement a shared research protocol to survey school children. By 1983 the HBSC study was adopted by the WHO Regional Office for Europe as a collaborative study. HBSC now includes 43 countries and regions across Europe and North America.

This research collaboration brings in individuals with a wide range of expertise in areas such as clinical medicine, epidemiology, human biology, paediatrics, pedagogy, psychology, public health, public policy, and sociology. The approach to study development has therefore involved cross-fertilization of a range of perspectives.

As such, the HBSC study is the product of topic-focused groups that collaborate to develop the conceptual foundations of the study, identify research questions, decide the methods and measurements to be employed, and work on data analyses and the dissemination of findings.

You can find more informational on the International HBSC Study here.

What do we research

Behaviours established during adolescence can continue into adulthood, affecting issues such as mental health, the development of health complaints, tobacco use, diet, physical activity levels, and alcohol use. HBSC focuses on understanding young people's health in their social context – where they live, at school, with family and friends. Researchers in the HBSC network are interested in understanding how these factors, individually and together, influence young people's health as they move from childhood into young adulthood.

The international standard questionnaire produced for every survey cycle enables the collection of common data across all participating countries and thus enables the quantification of patterns of key health behaviours, health indicators and contextual variables. These data allow cross-national comparisons to be made and, with successive surveys, trend data is gathered and may be examined at both the national and cross-national level. The international network is organized around an interlinked series of focus and topic groups related to the following areas:
  • Body image
  • Bullying and fighting
  • Eating behaviours
  • Health complaints
  • Injuries
  • Life satisfaction
  • Obesity
  • Oral health
  • Physical activity and sedentary behaviour
  • Relationships: Family and Peers
  • School environment
  • Self-rated health
  • Sexual behaviour
  • Socioeconomic environment
  • Substance use: Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis
  • Weight reduction behaviour

International Reports

The main findings of each 4-year HBSC survey cycles are summarized in an International Report that compares young people’s health and well-being across the participating countries.

The International Reports published in 2005/2006 and 2009/2010 can be downloaded by clicking on their cover page:

You can find other publications of the international HBSC Research Team here.

HBSC Hungary

Some of the former and present members Hungarian HBSC Research Team at the XXII Scientific Convent of the Hungarian Psychological Association, Szombathely, 22 June 2012. From left to right: Ágnes Németh, PhD, principal investigator; Emese Zsiros; Mónika Szabó, PhD; Gyöngyi Kökönyei, PhD; András Költő.

Hungary was the first of the former Socialist countries which joined Health Behavior in School-aged Children (HBSC) international study in 1985. Currently the research is hosted and organized by the National Institute of Child Health. Among the Hungarian senior primary school and all high school students, HBSC is the oldest and largest study. Beside the internationally examined age groups, the HBSC in our country is covering the 17-year old high school students as well. In addition of the internationally investigated topics, we regulary screen Hungarian young people for psycho-somatic health, self-esteem and depressive symptoms. The composition of our research team reflects the multidisciplinarity of HBSC: in the last decades, medical doctors, psychologists, sociologists, statisticians and a biologist took part in the study.

Our results are summarized in five comprehensive national reports, published in 1986, 1997, 2003, 2007 and 2011, and many scientific publications in Hungarian and English. The Hungarian researchers are active internationally as well. We took part in the writing of the 1997/98, 2001/02, 2005/06 and 2009/10 International Reports, and all Hungarian HBSC researchers are involved in the workgroups that investigate certain areas of the research.

National Reports and Publications

Overall findings on the health and well-being of Hungarian young people, as studied in school years 2006/07 and 2009/10, can be downloaded by clicking on the cover page:

You can find other publications of the Hungarian HBSC Research Team here.


14 October 2014 – We are happy to inform you that the HBSC Data Collection for school year 2013/14 is finished and currently we work on assembling the database for the international analysis.

07 June 2014 – In the frame of the International Visegrad Fund (IVF), the Hungarian HBSC Research Team is a consortium member in the ARE WE GROWING UP HEALTHY? Social norms approach to promote healthy adolescent lifestyle in Visegrad project, coordinated by our Czech colleagues. We will keep you updated!