Because children do not have the same decision-making powers as adults in matters affecting their health, their opinions have often been underrepresented in research (Bradding & Horstman, 1999). However, there is growing interest in the way that children view health because this knowledge elicits the development of more child-centered and effective approaches to health education and intervention (Bradding & Horstman, 1999). Professionals have often utilized the write-and-draw technique in school settings to gain a better understanding of how to best implement health education programs. The "bottom-up" approach of the write-and-draw method encourages participation and has been shown to elicit thoughtful responses about how children conceptualize health (Pridmore & Bendelow, 1995). This study uses the write-and-draw method to perform a cross- cultural comparison of child perspectives of health in the United States and Guatemala, countries that represent contrasting paradigms for child health. The results of this study are consistent with previous research, especially the emergent health themes. Children from the United States and Guatemala predominantly depicted health in terms of food. Guatemalan students were more likely to refer to hygienic practices and environmental conditions, while US children mentioned vegetables, water, and exercise as being healthy. For the unhealthy category, themes of poor hygiene, chips, fat/grease, fruit, carbohydrates, and environment were mentioned more often in Guatemala, while U.S. students listed sweets and fast food more frequently. Results support claims made in other literature that children's concepts of health are shaped by life experience and social context. Potential applications of the research include exposing areas (themes) where children are less likely to understand health implications and developing educational curriculum to increase a more comprehensive understanding of health.
- What is Health? A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Children's Depictions of Health in Guatemala and the United States
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