What is Health and What is Important for its Achievement? A Qualitative Study on Adolescent Boys’ Perceptions and Experiences of Health



Eva Randell1, 2, *, Lars Jerdén1, 3, Ann Öhman1, 4, Renée Flacking2
1 Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden
2 School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Dalarna University, 791 88 Falun, Sweden
3 Center for Clinical Research Dalarna, Nissers väg 3, 79172 Falun, Sweden
4 Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS), Umeå University, 901 87 Umeå, Sweden


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© Randell et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/legalcode), which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the School of Education, Health and Social Studies, Dalarna University, 791 88 Falun, Sweden; Tel: +46 23 778118; +4670 4619120; E-mail: era@du.se


Abstract

Few qualitative studies have explored adolescent boys’ perceptions of health.

Aim:

The aim of this study was therefore to explore how adolescent boys understand the concept of health and what they find important for its achievement

Methods:

Grounded theory was used as a method to analyse interviews with 33 adolescent boys aged 16 to 17 years attending three upper secondary schools in a relatively small town in Sweden.

Results:

There was a complexity in how health was perceived, experienced, dealt with, and valued. Although health on a conceptual level was described as ‘holistic’, health was experienced and dealt with in a more dualistic manner, one in which the boys were prone to differentiate between mind and body. Health was experienced as mainly emotional and relational, whereas the body had a subordinate value. The presence of positive emotions, experiencing self-esteem, balance in life, trustful relationships, and having a sense of belonging were important factors for health while the body was experienced as a tool to achieve health, as energy, and as a condition.

Conclusion:

Our findings indicate that young, masculine health is largely experienced through emotions and relationships and thus support theories on health as a social construction of interconnected processes.

Keywords: Adolescence, boys, grounded theory, health, qualitative, well-being.