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Health impacting behaviour & morbidity: implications for adolescent & youth health programmes in India.

BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVES: In Himachal Pradesh (HP), a comprehensive health survey was conducted to assess the prevalent health affecting habits and issues among young individuals aged 10 to 24 yr. The study was aimed to evaluate key factors such as nutrition, substance use (including tobacco and alcohol), mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression, sexual behaviours and personal hygiene, as well as incidents of violence and injury (including road traffic and other injuries).

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in HP on 2895 individuals aged between 10 and 24 yr. The survey encompassed four districts, namely Shimla, Kinnaur, Kangra, and Sirmaur, and 12 blocks (three in each district). To ensure a representative sample, a stratified multistage cluster sampling approach was used. Districts and blocks were selected purposively so as to represent the diverse sociodemographic and cultural characteristics of this region. Within each block, thirty clusters were chosen using a probability proportional to size method. Clusters were defined as villages in rural areas and wards in urban areas. The World Health Organization 30 × 7 cluster technique was employed to identify households and individuals for the study.

RESULTS: Underweight (44.39%), risk of cell phone addiction (19.62%), feeling anxious (15.54%), unintentional injuries (14.72%) and violence (8.19%) were the top five health impacting problems among young people in HP.

INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSIONS: The leading health impacting problems identified are preventable and/or modifiable factors affecting the overall health and development of young people in HP. These need to be addressed as priority health problems for interventions with a focus on maintaining positive health through integrated approaches including care provision, risk reduction and health promotion related to these health impacting behaviours. Such interventions are likely to yield better results towards the overall health and development of young people in HP.

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