General Health Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Health is “a state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (WHO, n.d., section 1). Childhood health plays an important role in shaping future health and well-being outcomes; thus, early intervention is crucial to reduce disparities among children and adolescents (Hillemeier, Lanza, Landale, & Oropesa, 2013). School-based health services can provide support to children that set them on a healthy trajectory (Michael, Merlo, Basch, Wentzel, & Wechsler, 2015). 

Why is it important?

  • Academic achievement and the positive health-related behaviours of students are correlated (Busch et al., 2014; Michael et al., 2015).
  • Student health and well-being are impacted by the environment and disciplinary climate of schools (Saab & Klinger, 2010).
  • Children spend a significant amount of time at school, making it an important venue to stage health promotion initiatives (Denny et al., 2011).
  • By providing health services, safe and supportive learning environments, and involving the community schools can improve the health and learning outcomes of students (Michael et al., 2015).

How do we measure it?

In the OurSCHOOL elementary and secondary school surveys, students are asked to rate their general health on a scale from ‘0’ to ’10’, where zero means ‘poor’ and ‘10’ means ‘excellent’. Students with a score above 6 are considered to have positive general health. The results are reported as “the percentage of students with positive general health.”

This question was developed by The Learning Bar for the PISA for Development study and will be used by several countries in the PISA 2021 study. As with the OurSCHOOL measure of Life Satisfaction, results for a school can be compared with those of other schools and districts and with national results for several countries.


Busch, V., Loyen, A., Lodder, M., Schrijvers, A. J., van Yperen, T. A., & de Leeuw, J. R. (2014). The effects of adolescent health-related behavior on academic performance: A systematic review of the longitudinal evidence. Review of Educational Research, 84(2), 245-274.

Denny, S. J., Robinson, E. M., Utter, J., Fleming, T. M., Grant, S., Milfont, T. L., ... & Clark, T. (2011). Do schools influence student risk-taking behaviors and emotional health symptoms? Journal of Adolescent Health, 48(3), 259-267.

Hillemeier, M. M., Lanza, S. T., Landale, N. S., & Oropesa, R. S. (2013). Measuring early childhood health and health disparities: A new approach. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 17(10), 1852-1861.

Michael, S. L., Merlo, C. L., Basch, C. E., Wentzel, K. R., & Wechsler, H. (2015). Critical connections: Health and academics. Journal of School Health, 85(11), 740-758.

Saab, H., & Klinger, D. (2010). School differences in adolescent health and wellbeing: Findings from the Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study.  Social Science & Medicine, 70(6), 850-858.