Open Access Open Badges Research article

A survey to assist in targeting the adults who undertake risky behaviours, know their health behaviours are not optimal and who acknowledge being worried about their health

Anne W Taylor1*, Kay Price2 and Simon Fullerton1

Author affiliations

1 Population Research and Outcome Studies, University of Adelaide, Level 3, 122 Frome Street, Adelaide, South Australia, 5000, Australia

2 Associate Professor Kay Price, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia-City East Campus, GPO Box 2471, Adelaide, SA, 5001, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:120  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-120

Published: 8 February 2013



Research indicates that those who are worried about their health are more likely to change their in-appropriate behavioural-related risk factors. A national survey was undertaken to determine adults who correctly perceive and actually undertake in-appropriate behavioural-related risk factors (smoking, physical activity, alcohol intake, fruit and vegetable consumption, weight and psychological distress) and are worried about their health.


Australian 2010 CATI survey of 3003 randomly selected adults. Perception and self-reported levels of each risk factor, and whether they worried that the level was affecting their health were assessed using univariate and multivariate analyses.


The comparisons between perception of healthy behaviour and actual behaviour varied for each risk factor with 44.1% of people in the un-healthy weight range and 72.9% of those eating less than sufficient fruit and vegetables having the perception that their behaviour was healthy. The demographic and other related variables in the multivariate analyse for each risk factor varied considerably. For example the variables in the final multivariate model for smokers who were worried about their risk factor were markedly different to the other risk factor models and 45 to 54 year olds were more likely to be included in the final models for nearly all of the risk factor analyses.


By limiting this analyses to those who are acknowledging (correctly or otherwise) that their perception of behaviour is making their health worse, this study has shown that the profile for each risk factor varies considerably. As such, evidence suggests specific targeted programs are required rather than a broad brush approach.

Worry; Risk factors; Perception; Australia; Health promotion