Knowledge and beliefs about health and cancer prevention: the views of young people

Gillian Bendelow (Lecturer in Applied Social Studies at the University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.)
Simon J. Williams (Lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of Warwick, Warwick, UK.)
Ann Oakley (Ann Oakley is Professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the Social Science Research Unit, University of London, Institute of Education, London, UK)

Health Education

ISSN: 0965-4283

Publication date: 1 December 1996


Reports the findings from a study of young people’s knowledge of and attitudes towards cancer, and their understanding of health and health‐related behaviours, the aim of which is to inform future health promotion work in this area. Finds, from the study of three inner city, suburban and rural schools involving 226 young people aged 15‐16, that young people know most about lung cancer, but there is also some understanding of other cancers, particularly breast and skin cancer and leukaemia. Reveals that smoking, pollution and other environmental factors are seen as the dominant causes of cancer, and the latter are more often mentioned by the inner city samples. Shows that young people appear to be more worried about unemployment than ill health, and that happiness comes before health as a priority in their lives. Finds television and the media to be the most important sources of information. Considers the implications of these findings for traditional approaches to health education and health promotion.



Bendelow, G., Williams, S. and Oakley, A. (1996), "Knowledge and beliefs about health and cancer prevention: the views of young people", Health Education, Vol. 96 No. 6, pp. 23-32.

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Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited

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