APH 2001, 59, 281-307:

Psychosocial factors and multiple unhealthy behaviours in 25- to 64-year-old Belgian citizens.

D. Roberfroid and J. Pomerleau

Keywords: Behaviours, psychosocial, health, cluster

Background: Correlations between lifestyles and health have been well-demonstrated.  However, multiple unhealthy behaviour patterns and their determinants have been less studied.  Do unhealthy behaviours occur independently, or do they exhibit clustering ?  What are the psychosocial, socioeconomic, and demographic determinants that may contribute to this clustering ?  How do multiple unhealthy behaviours relate to general health status ?

Aim: The aim of the present study was to analyse the distribution of multiple unhealthy behaviours and their association with psychosocial factors and health status indicators in the 25- to 64-year-old Belgian population.

Method: A secondary analysis of the 1997 Belgium Health Survey was performed. Associations between 5 selected unhealthy behaviours were analysed: smoking, heavy drinking, inactivity, non-use of a seat belt, and unhealthy diet. Psychosocial factors were derived from the data set. Con founding was controlled for socioeconomic status, sex, and age. Health status was assessed by self-rated health, functional health, and morbidity.

Results: The 5 selected unhealthy behaviours do not occur independently, but aggregate. Marital status, social network, self-efficacy (as assessed by proxy), employment status, and religion membership are all significantly associated with the clustering of unhealthy behaviours and unhealthy clusters are related to poor health status. Relationships between psychosocial factors, health-related behaviours, and health status are discussed.

Conclusions: Public health policies and interventions should acknowledge the aggregated pattern of unhealthy behaviours and the important links between multiple unhealthy behaviours and psychosocial factors.