Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Monica Swahn, PhD

Second Advisor

Rachel Culbreth, PhD, MPH, RRT


INTRODUCTION: Self-rated physical health is a valuable measure that has been utilized to determine a person’s perception of health, which is dependent on their biological, emotional, physical, cognitive, and social context. This measure has been used throughout the world but has not been utilized as a marker for health and well-being among adolescent youth living in the slums of Kampala, Uganda.

AIM: This thesis aims to determine how youth in Kampala slums rate their physical health and determine the associations between self-rated health and a range of risk behaviors across domains such as demographic characteristics, mental health, violence, substance use, and sexual risk behaviors.

METHODS: Data from the 2014 Kampala Youth Survey (N=1134) of youth ages 12 to 18 years was used to analyze associations between “self-rated physical health” and independent variables ranging from demographics, housing characteristics, alcohol use behavior, experience of injury and abuse, HIV/STI diagnosis, and mental health characteristics.

RESULTS: Overall, the majority of youth participants rated their health as “excellent” or “good.” Self-rated physical health was associated with many of the variables examined, such as education, parental status, housing status and experiencing homelessness, alcohol consumption, and drunkenness, HIV/STI diagnosis, ever experiencing injury and violence, and mental health characteristics.

DISCUSSION: Given the strong associations between a range of health risk behaviors and poor self-rated health, a simple self-rated health question may be used as a marker for other high-risk behaviors and health disparities, even among youth. The findings underscore severe health disparities among youth as young as 12 to 18 years that need to be targeted to improve overall health and well-being.


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