The Health of Teenagers: A Focused Ethnographic Study
Article first published online: 5 MAY 2007
Public Health Nursing
Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 35–42, March 1987
How to Cite
Magilvy, J. K., McMahon, M., Bachman, M., Roark, S. and Evenson, C. (1987), The Health of Teenagers: A Focused Ethnographic Study. Public Health Nursing, 4: 35–42. doi: 10.1111/j.1525-1446.1987.tb00509.x
- Issue published online: 5 MAY 2007
- Article first published online: 5 MAY 2007
- Manuscript submitted 4/18/86, revised 5/29/86, accepted 6/27/86.
This study, a focused community analysis, was conducted to determine the health needs and status of the aggregate of school-aged adolescents (13–18 years) using a method combining an epidemiologic approach with an ethnographic field method. Health was defined broadly, assumed to be interrelated with environmental, economic, social, educational, and cultural variables influencing adolescent life. The research involved five steps: collection of available secondary epidemiologic and census data; interviews with key informants, such as teachers, parents, school nurses, and other adults working with teenagers; participant observation and ethnographic interviews with primary informants, that is, teenagers from a variety of backgrounds; and finally, analysis and reporting of secondary and ethnographic data. Of the many themes generated in the data collection, four are reported here: lifestyle, health, pregnancy, and substance abuse. Findings included a typology of subgroups of the adolescent population that influenced lifestyles and led to different attitudes toward health, pregnancy, and substance abuse. The ethnographic approach facilitated an understanding of the health needs and attitudes of teenagers, implying a need for altered interventions and approaches by adults teaching and caring for them.