, Volume 54, Issue 2 Supplement, pp 151-159
Date: 30 Jul 2009

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

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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.


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.


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.


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.

Members of the HBSC Positive Health Focus Group: Ulrike Ravens-Sieberer (DE) (Coordinator), Torbjørn Torsheim (NO), Bogdana Alexandrova (BG), Fiona Brooks (GB), Antony Morgan (GB), Cath Fenton (GB), Kädi Lepp (EE), Raili Välimäa (FI) Céline Vignes (FR), Mariane Sentenac (FR), Veronika Ottova (DE), Christina Schnohr (GL), Gyöngyi Kökönyei (HU), Kjartan Unak (IS), Franco Cavallo (IT), Inese Gobina (LV), Wilma Vollebergh (NL), Saskia van Dorsselaer (NL), Jørn Hetland (NO), Joanna Mazur (PL), Tania Gaspar (PT), Viorel Mih (RO), Aurora Szentagotai (RO), Eva Kallay (RO), Andrea Geckova (SK), Zuzana Katreniakova (SK), Helena Jericek (SI), Eva Stergar (SI), Vesna Pucelj (SI), Pilar Ramos (ES), Mia Danielson (SE), Lilly Eriksson (SE), Mujgan Alikasifoglu (TR), Ethem Erginoz (TR)
Submitted: 18 September 2008; revised 04 May 2009; accepted: 04 June 2009