08 SES 08, High school students; Education, health and wellbeing
Cancer is one of the most common diseases in recent years. However, there are very few studies which investigate adolescents’ cancer awareness and thoughts about cancer in Turkey. This research explored high school students’ (N= 275, %56 female and %44 male students) level of knowledge about risk factors and interest in cancer. The required data were collected from three private schools in Ankara and one private school in Erzurum via questionnaire. The first part of the questionnaire included the questions about the participants’ demographic information. The second part consisted of 14-statementdichotomous scale (yes-no) that was about cancer risk factors. The last part of the questionnaire consisted of 27 items that included various cancer types, treatment methods and cancer biology to investigate students’ interest in cancer. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS, v.24.0) was used to analyze the data. The results indicated that most of the participants were successful at identifying carcinogenic risk factors except overweight and all non-carcinogenic risk factors. Also, no statistically significant gender difference was found in terms of the participants’ cancer knowledge level about risk factors overall. In addition, most of the participants were not interested in the items in interest part of the questionnaire overall. Also, no gender differences were found in the interest part. In the direction of these results, the current study suggests that exploring high school students’ existing level of knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and interests about cancer contribute to teachers, curriculum and lesson material developers to form an effective cancer education.
The aim of the current study is to examine and evaluate high school students’ levels of knowledge in cancer risk factors, and their interests in cancer. For this purpose, the required data were collected from the participants at four different high schools by a paper-and-pencil questionnaire. The required permission to apply the questionnaire was obtained from Ministry of National Education. Two hundred seventy five students who were in the 16-19 age range completed the questionnaire (56% female, 44% male). Heuckmann and Asshoff developed the original questionnaire in 2014 to examine high school students’ attitudes toward and interest in cancer in Germany. The questionnaire was translated from English into Turkish and then it was again translated from Turkish into English to check its validity. The first part of the questionnaire part included the questions about the participants’ demographic information. The participants were asked for gender, age, grade, the followed curriculum, their mothers’ and fathers’ educational backgrounds, the amount of monthly income, anyone who suffers from cancer in their families and the type of cancer in the first part. The second part consisted of 14-statementdichotomous scale (yes-no) that was about cancer risk factors. The participants were asked whether they saw a relationship between cancer and the given statements and to choose one of “yes” or “no” for each statement in order to describe their knowledge level. They gained one point for each correct answer. The last part of the questionnaire consisted of 27 items that included various cancer types, treatment methods and cancer biology to investigate students’ interest in cancer. Four-point Likert scale (1= not interesting, 2= rather not interesting, 3= interesting and 4 = very interesting) was used in this part to examine how much the participants were interested in cancer. They were asked to choose one of 1, 2, 3 and 4 for each statement. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS, v.24.0) was used as software to analyze the data. All items of the questionnaire were analyzed by descriptive statistics to investigate students’ cancer knowledge level about risk factors and their interest toward cancer. Moreover, independent sample t test was used to examine whether there was a difference between female and male students in terms of their cancer knowledge level about cancer risk factors and interest in cancer.
The results showed most of the participants were successful at identifying carcinogenic risk factors except obesity. The reason may be about television and media, because Oakley et al. (1995) reported that most of the participants stated that they got information about cancer from television and media. Another research (Karayurt et al., 2008) suggested 48.6% of the participants stated that media was the main source to acquire information about breast cancer. These findings indicate that television and media could be effective to educate young people. 60% of the participants stated that there was no relationship between cancer and obesity. Similarly, Karayurt et al., (2008) emphasized students had insufficient knowledge about the relationship between cancer and obesity. The reason may be not having any information about the relationship between cancer and overweight in Turkish curricula. When each item was explored separately, the results showed that females were more successful at identifying “going to the solarium often” and “excessively exposed to sun light” as risk factors. The reason may be related to the lack of knowledge about skin cancer in male students. There are various studies which report that males more expose to sunlight and less use sunscreen (Tempark et al., 2012). Most of the participants were interested in human biology, cancer treatment methods, symptoms of cancer, cancer genesis, brain tumors and leukemia. The reason of the interest in these items may be about students’ background knowledge since they learn cancer in biologic dimension, some risk factors, symptoms and treatment methods of cancer in health and biology courses. Also, the reason of interest toward leukemia may be because of it is the most common childhood cancer in Turkey (Gültekin et. al, 2016). The results showed that females were more interested in “cancer in general”, “skin cancer” and “breast cancer”.
Gültekin, M., Boztaş, G., Utku, E.Ş., Kavak Ergün, A., Sevinç, A., Tütüncü, S., …Seymen, E. (2016). Turkey cancer statistics. Retrieved from http://kanser.gov.tr/Dosya/ca_istatistik/ANA_rapor_2013v01_2.pdf Heuckmann, B., & Asshoff, R. (2014). German high school students’ attitudes and interest in cancer and factors influencing proactive behaviour for cancer prevention. Journal of Cancer Education, 29(3), 497–505. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-014-0634-x Karayurt, Ö., Özmen, D., & Çakmakiçi Çetinkaya, A. (2008). Awareness of breast cancer risk factors and practice of breast self examination among high school students in Turkey. BMC Public Health. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-8-359 Oakley, A., Bendelow, G., Barnes, J., Buchanan, M., & Husain, O. A. N. (1995). Health and cancer prevention: knowledge and beliefs of children and young people. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 310, 1029–1033. Tempark, T., Chatproedprai, S., & Wananukul, S. (2012). Attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors of secondary school adolescents regarding protection from sun exposure: a survey in Bangkok, Thailand. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 2012, 28(4), 200-206. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0781.2012.00671.x
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