Defining and assessing risky behaviours


Dr L McKie, Department of General Practice, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill Health Centre Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB9 2AY, Scotland


This paper presents the deliberations and conclusions of an international group of health practitioners, researchers and planners who met in 1991 to explore risky behaviours and risk assessment in the context of the World Health Organization's strategy Health for All By 2000 A definition of risky behaviours is discussed and a method of exploring risk contexts,‘a risk equation', is presented Lay risk assessment is explored and contrasted with professional perceptions of risk as evidenced in health education campaigns It is concluded that the application of epidemiological techniques — the study of the incidence and prevalence of risk-related and health-related behaviours — employing qualitative methods provides a useful means of exploring the social and cultural context of risk behaviour