Health behaviours of young, rural residents: a case study.

Research paper by Lisa L Bourke, John J Humphreys, Fiona F Lukaitis

Indexed on: 02 Apr '09Published on: 02 Apr '09Published in: Australian Journal of Rural Health


To analyse self-reported health behaviours of young people from a rural community and the factors influencing their behaviours.Interviews were conducted with 19 young people, 11 parents and 10 key informants from a small rural Victorian community, asking about teenage health behaviours and the factors influencing these behaviours.Young people ate both healthy and unhealthy foods, most participated in physical activity, few smoked and most drank alcohol. The study found that community level factors, including community norms, peers, access issues and geographic isolation, were particularly powerful in shaping health behaviours, especially alcohol consumption. Smoking was influenced by social participation in the community and national media health campaigns. Diet and exercise behaviour were influenced by access and availability, convenience, family, peers and local and non-local cultural influences.The rural context, including less access to and choice of facilities and services, lower incomes, lack of transport and local social patterns (including community norms and acceptance), impact significantly on young people's health behaviours. Although national health promotion campaigns are useful aspects of behaviour modification, much greater focus on the role and importance of the local contexts in shaping health decisions of young rural people is required.