7- Book Review: Chinese Adolescent

Book Review

Chinese Adolescent in Hong Kong

Family life, psychological well-being and risk behavior

Edited by Daniel T.L Shek, Rachel C.F. Shun, Cecilia M.S. Ma, ISBN 978-981-287-143-5, Springer, 2014, 259 pages.

Reviewed by Mandakini Sadhir, MD, Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, United States


This is an excellent book that describes factors influencing psychological well-being and risk-taking behaviors of Chinese adolescents living in Hong Kong.  Multiple studies have been done among adolescents in Western countries to identify risk taking behaviors, associated risk factors and effective intervention strategies to promote physical and psychological wellbeing of adolescents. There is a dearth of studies and information regarding adolescent health in other countries across various cultures.  The book is a giant first step in addressing adolescent health issues in Asian countries particularly in Chinese population. It focuses on various pertinent factors that influence well-being of Chinese adolescents in the junior secondary school years such as family functioning, parent-child relationship, parenting style, parent-child communication, parental marital problems and socio economic status.  The  majority of the chapters in the book   present data from a longitudinal study that was conducted in twenty eight secondary schools over a period of six consecutive years in Hong Kong.  This longitudinal study collected information on demographics, family background (e.g., parental education level, parental employment and marital status, family economic status), academic performance and adjustment, family quality of life, after-school activities and risk taking behaviors.  The impact of parent –child relationship on adolescent development and risk taking behaviors has been discussed in the first several chapters.  The results of this particular study showed that family conflicts and negative parenting were associated with problems with school adjustment, suicidal tendencies and   risk taking behavior in adolescents.  Some of the last few chapters discuss risk behaviors that are prevalent  among Chinese adolescents  including substance use, Internet addiction, delinquent behaviors, gambling, compensated dating, deliberate self-harm and suicidal behaviors. The impact of positive youth development attributes on overall adolescent well-being across the junior high school years has been very well described in the book.  The findings of Project P.A.T.H.S. in Hong Kong are presented.   The role of positive family functioning and dyadic parent-child relational quality influencing risk behaviors and well- being of adolescents has been greatly emphasized.  One of the studies done showed that positive relationship between school competence and life satisfaction in Chinese adolescents  which is contrary to the studies done in United States.

The book is very comprehensive and serves a great resource for health care providers, public health researchers and other professionals who are invested in adolescent health.  While, there are gaps in existing literatures, the studies presented in this book serve as stepping stone further research and development of family quality of life enhancement and positive youth programs in Chinese adolescents.