Original article

International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 54, Supplement 2, pp 151-159

First online:

Subjective health, symptom load and quality of life of children and adolescents in Europe

  • Ulrike Ravens-SiebererAffiliated withCenter for Obstetrics and Pediatrics, Department of Psychosomatics in Children and Adolescents, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf Email author 
  • , Torbjorn TorsheimAffiliated withUniversity of Bergen
  • , Jorn HetlandAffiliated withResearch Centre for Health Promotion
  • , Wilma VolleberghAffiliated withUtrecht University
  • , Franco CavalloAffiliated withUniversity of Torino
  • , Helena JericekAffiliated withCentre for Health Promotion
  • , Mujgan AlikasifogluAffiliated withIstanbul University
  • , Raili VälimaaAffiliated withUniversity of Jyväskylä
  • , Veronika OttovaAffiliated withCenter for Obstetrics and Pediatrics, Department of Psychosomatics in Children and Adolescents, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
    • , Michael ErhartAffiliated withCenter for Obstetrics and Pediatrics, Department of Psychosomatics in Children and Adolescents, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf
    • , the HBSC Positive Health Focus Group

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Abstract

Objectives:

To examine cross-cultural differences in the prevalence of school children's subjective health types and the pattern of socio-demographic and socio-economic differences.

Methods:

Within the cross-sectional Health Behaviour in Schoolaged Children 2005/2006 Survey 200,000 school children aged 11, 13 and 15 answered a general health item, the Cantrill life satisfaction ladder and a subjective health complaints checklist. ANOVA and multilevel logistic regression models were conducted.

Results:

Overall, 44% of the respondents reported multiple recurrent health complaints, only poor to fair general health, low life satisfaction or a combination of these. Older adolescents (OR: 1.1–1.6) and girls (OR: 1.2–1.4) reported more health problems, the gender difference increased with age (OR: 1.3–1.6). Low socio-economic status was also associated with health problems (OR: 1.4–2.3). Sizeable cross-national variation in the prevalence of health types and the impact of the above mentioned factors were observed, yet the main pattern of impact could be confirmed cross-culturally.

Conclusions:

Increasing social and gender role pressure with growing age, as well as restricted access to material resources and psychosocial strains are discussed as potential explanations for the observed health inequalities.

Keywords:

Children & adolescents Subjective health Health types HBSC Study Cross-cultural differences