European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 162, Issue 10, pp 682–689 | Cite as

Chronic illness, life style and emotional health in adolescence: results of a cross-sectional survey on the health of 15-20-year-olds in Switzerland

  • Lise Miauton
  • Françoise Narring
  • Pierre-André Michaud
Original Paper


The objective was to evaluate the prevalence of chronic conditions (CC) in adolescents in Switzerland; to describe their behaviour (leisure, sexuality, risk taking behaviour) and to compare them to those in adolescents who do not have CC in order to evaluate the impact of those conditions on their well-being. The data were obtained from the Swiss Multicentre Adolescent Survey on Health, targeting a sample of 9268 in-school adolescents aged 15 to 20 years, who answered a self-administered questionnaire. Some 11.4% of girls and 9.6% of boys declared themselves carriers of a CC. Of girls suffering from a CC, 25% (versus 13% of non carriers; P=0.007) and 38% of boys (versus 25%; P=0.002) proclaimed not to wear a seatbelt whilst driving. Of CC girls, 6.3% (versus 2.7%; P=0.000) reported within the last 12 months to have driven whilst drunk. Of the girls, 43% (versus 36%; P=0.004) and 47% (versus 39%; P=0.001) were cigarette smokers. Over 32% of boys (versus 27%; P=0.02) reported having ever used cannabis and 17% of girls (versus 13%; P=0.013) and 43% of boys (versus 36%; P=0.002) admitted drinking alcohol. The burden of their illness had important psychological consequences: 7.7% of girls (versus 3.4%; P=0.000) and 4.9% of boys (versus 2.0%; P=0.000) had attempted suicide during the previous 12 months. Conclusion: experimental behaviours are not rarer in adolescents with a chronic condition and might be explained by a need to test their limits both in terms of consumption and behaviour. Prevention and specific attention from the health caring team is necessary.


Adolescence Chronic condition Risk-taking behaviour 



chronic conditions


confidence interval



This research was supported by grants from the Federal Office of Public Health, Switzerland. Grants Nb. 316.91.5139, 316.92.5321, and 316.94.5604.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lise Miauton
    • 1
  • Françoise Narring
    • 1
  • Pierre-André Michaud
    • 1
  1. 1.Adolescent Health Research UnitInstitute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

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