Brock webinar to explore study on health behaviour in school-aged children

A study examining the health behaviour of school-aged children will be the focus of a free public talk taking place virtually Tuesday, Sept. 21.

Hosted by Brock University’s Lifespan Development Research Institute as part of its Community Speaker Series, the talk will be led by Health Sciences Associate Professor William Pickett, a lead investigator in the Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study.

The World Health Organization (WHO) affiliated research study of youth aged 11 to 15 years old aims to gain an understanding of young people’s well-being, health behaviours and social experiences. The webinar, which runs from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., will provide an overview and examples of pre-COVID findings in child and adolescent health.

Brock Health Sciences Associate Professor William Pickett is a lead investigator in the Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study.

“This study has been around for almost 35 years,” says Pickett. “At its roots, it’s an international study done in affiliation with the WHO. It started with two to three countries in the early 1980s and has grown to include up to 50 countries, with Canada joining in the ’90s.”

The Canadian study run out of Queen’s University is led by Pickett, Co-principal Investigator and Queen’s Professor of Psychology Wendy Craig, and National Co-ordinator Matthew King. Brock is a part of a family of post-secondary institutions involved in this research, including McGill University, l’Université de Montréal, McMaster University, University of Waterloo, University of Prince Edward Island and University of British Columbia.

Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and in collaboration with the Pan-Canadian Joint Consortium for School Health (JCSH), the study surveyed 21,000 students in 2018 from 300 schools across Canada in urban, rural and remote communities.

“JCSH represents provincial, territorial and federal health and education ministries, across the country,” says Pickett. “They advise us and help us gain access into schools to collect information about health. Young people also advise us on an ongoing basis and, moving forward, it is our hope that Brock University will provide leadership to the HBSC in Canada in terms of youth engagement.”

The 2018 survey asked questions about health, health behaviours and the factors that influence them. During his talk, Pickett will share information on some of the highlights from the data. He will also provide illustrative examples of the international data, highlighting items like social media use and what it’s like to work with researchers in 50 countries.

“It’s important to note that HBSC always wants to approach data collection respectfully,” says Pickett. “It is for this reason the 2018, pre-COVID study does not include Nunavut. Mainly in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Final Report and Calls to Action, we felt we needed more time to develop relationships in the territory and hamlets, which are predominantly Inuit communities.”

Pickett became involved with the Canadian study in the mid-’90s in an advisory role in child injury. He has since worked in several areas to become a Co-principal Investigator and sits on the HBSC International Co-ordinating Committee while helping to direct the study internationally.

“Looking forward, Niagara’s school communities will see some direct benefits from surveys happening this school year and in the future, particularly in the area of youth engagement,” says Pickett. “I encourage those interested in adolescent health, academics and the general public to join my talk to learn more about the HBSC.”

This webinar is free and open to the public, but registration is required to gain access to the online event. Please RSVP online via the Lifespan website.

For more information, please contact Jayne Morrish at

The event is supported in partnership with Brock’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and the Office of Research Services.

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