Children's views of health: a developmental study

Am J Public Health. 1978 Oct;68(10):995-1000. doi: 10.2105/ajph.68.10.995.


Two hundred and sixty-four first, fourth, and seventh grade children were asked to define health, state what it felt like to be healthy and not healthy, and to give criteria they would use to judge another person's health status. A chi square analysis was done to compare differences for age, sex, intelligence, and socioeconomic status. Results indicated that children saw health as a positive attribute which enabled them to participate in desired activities, that a person was healthy if he could do what he wanted to do, and that health and illness were two different cncepts rather than on a continuum as is often cited in the literature. Mental health was not considered as part of being healthy except by a few of the oldest children. There were both qualitative and quantitative changes with age which were consistent with theories of concept development. It is recommended that future studies be conducted with both adults and health workers. (There is some evidence that consumers and health professionals do not have the same ideas about health.)

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • New Jersey
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Perception
  • Socioeconomic Factors