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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Being lonely or using substances with friends? A cross-sectional study of Hungarian adolescents’ health risk behaviours

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Szabolcs Varga, Bettina F. Piko
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

SZV was responsible for the data collection, edited the questionnaire, performed the statistical analyses and interpretation of data, and drafted the manuscript. BFP participated in the analysis and interpretation of data, edited the questionnaire and drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Studying adolescents’ health risk behaviours is oddly significant in Central and Eastern European countries, where the prevalence of smoking and drinking among 14–18 year old students is significantly high. The goal of our study is to examine the role of social psychological and social behavioural variables in health risk behaviours among Hungarian adolescents.


Our sample was comprised of three high schools of Debrecen (the second largest city of Hungary). In all, 501 students filled in the questionnaire from 22 classes (14–22 years old). Students aged above 18 years were excluded for the purpose of the study, giving a total sample size of 471 high school students. Descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression analyses were conducted.


According to our results (1) social behavioural factors (namely, smoking and alcohol use of the best friend and peer group) proved to be better predictors of adolescents’ health risk behaviours as compared to the included social psychological attributes (2); among the latter ones, loneliness and shyness were negatively related with both smoking and drinking, while competitiveness was a predictor of drinking prevalence among boys.


The findings suggest that social behavioural factors, including smoking and drinking of friends, are oddly important predictors of Hungarian adolescents’ health risk behaviours. According to our results, health policy should pay more attention to peer norms related to smoking and drinking during school health promotion. Developing health protective social norms may be an indispensable component of effective health promotion in high schools.
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