N.T. Burkert, K. Unterleitner and É. Rásky contributed equally to this work.
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Studies analysing health concepts of children are scarce. Thus, the aim of this study was to analyse health concepts of elementary school children in Austria. In all, 240 pupils in grades 2 (7 or 8 years old) and 4 (9 or 10 years old) of three rural and three urban elementary schools in Styria took part in this explorative study. Differences were analysed using multivariate analyses. Girls associated health more often with nature than did boys, and pupils in grade 2 drew illness-related symbols more often than those in grade 4. Children attending an urban elementary school signalled preventive behaviour more often than children in rural areas. Our results showed that children in Austria, overall, have a positive concept of health, but they also reveal differing health concepts between the groups. Public health programs should take into account the differences in health concepts to implement more effective preventive intervention programs in schools.