The association of peer pressure and peer affiliation with the health risk behaviors of secondary school students in Hong Kong

Jean Tak Alice Loke Yuen, Yim Wah Mak, Sau Ting Cynthia Wu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Study design Cross-sectional study using a self-completed questionnaire. Methods Secondary school students in Year 3 were the target population of this study. Information was solicited from students on their perceptions of peer pressure using a questionnaire employing the Peer Pressure Inventory and their involvement in risk behaviors using a modified global school-based student health survey. Results A total of 840 secondary students from Hong Kong completed the questionnaires. The prevalence of secondary students who had ever smoked was 6.4%, consumed alcohol 39.2%, ever used drugs 0.5%, were sexually active 3.9%, and involved in bullying 20.5%. A higher proportion of secondary students involved in risk behaviors were affiliated with peers who were involved in the same activities: smoking (48.9%), drinking alcohol (86.5%), using drugs (18.2%), engaged in sexual activity (34.5%), and bullying (82.6%). The perception of peer conformity and peer involvement was found to be significantly correlated with the students' health risk behaviors, particularly with regard to smoking, drinking alcohol, and bullying. A logistic regression analysis showed that having friends who are involved in the same risk behaviors is the single most important factor associated with the participation of secondary students in those specific risk behaviors. Conclusions The results of this study provided a better understanding of the association between peer pressure and the adoption of health behaviors. The development of effective peer-led prevention programs to reduce the uptake of health risk behaviors should therefore be promoted to prevent adolescents from developing serious health problems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
JournalPublic Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016


  • Health risk behaviors
  • Peer affiliation
  • Peer pressure
  • Substance use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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