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About the HBSC study

The Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, initiated in 1982, is a unique cross-national research project investigating adolescents’ health and well-being across Europe, Central Asia and North America. Conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe, it focuses on understanding the health and well-being of young people within their everyday environments, such as school and home, and among their friends and family.

HBSC has been conducting surveys of young people every four years since 1983/84 and has grown to include data from 51 countries, bringing together over 450 network members. Its goal is to collect reliable data about adolescents’ health and social environments, which can then be used to develop policies and programs to improve young people’s health and well-being.

WHO Regional Office for Europe is the primary partner of HBSC and has been since 1983. HBSC and WHO work together to improve understanding of adolescent health and ensure high-quality data are used to develop policies and programmes that protect and promote young people’s health and well-being.




Standardised methodology: The HBSC study adheres to a consistent, standardised methodology across all participating countries and regions. Protocols for each survey round are publicly accessible on the HBSC website.

Data collection: Data are collected from pupils in mainstream schools using a self-report questionnaire.

Sampling strategy: Each country or region uses cluster sampling to select a nationally representative sample of young people aged 11, 13 and 15 years to complete the survey. The primary sampling unit is the school class, with all pupils in selected classes being invited to participate.

Timing and age alignment: The timing of the survey in each country is determined by school entry dates to give samples of comparable age (approx mean 11.5, 13.5 and 15.5 years) across countries.

Sample size: HBSC aims to survey approximately 1500 pupils per age group in each country or region (totaling around 4500). Some countries, however, exceed this to explore demographic or regional subgroups further. In areas with smaller populations, a census might be employed.

Survey administration: Pupils complete the questionnaire in school as a whole school class, using either pencil and paper or an electronic survey mode.

Questionnaire composition: The standard international questionnaire combines mandatory items, which are posed to pupils in all countries and regions, with optional items, selected by some countries or regions, and nation-specific items. This blend of questions facilitates the extraction of both universally comparable data and insights pertinent to specific geographical or cultural contexts.

Data management: Data are anonymised before distribution to the HBSC Data Management Centre at the University of Bergen, ensuring the anonymity of participants. Furthermore, data use, storage, and sharing procedures rigorously abide by the GDPR and national data protection laws.


About the 2021/22 survey

About HBSC

The 2021/22 survey placed a particular emphasis on mental health and well-being, introducing additional mandatory questions on loneliness and general self-efficacy.

Fieldwork for the 2021/22 HBSC survey was conducted from October 2021 to June 2022. However, an extended period was required in some countries to ensure adequate sample sizes, given the various challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as inconsistent school attendance and elevated levels of illness among staff and students, which disrupted traditional data collection methods and timelines.

The 2021/22 survey placed a particular emphasis on mental health and well-being, introducing additional mandatory questions on loneliness and general self-efficacy. Methodological requirements were also modified in light of the pandemic. While traditionally 90% of respondents needed to be within +- 0.5 year around the mean age for each group, this requirement was relaxed to 80% for this survey cycle, with a maximum of 10% allowed in each tail, to accommodate the unforeseen complications and ensure the continuation of the survey amidst the challenges.

Detailed information about fieldwork dates, modes of data entry, achieved sample size, response rates and mean age can be accessed below.

About HBSC

Find out more about HBSC