Associations between social vulnerabilities and psychosocial problems in European children. Results from the IDEFICS study
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The effect of socioeconomic inequalities on children’s mental health remains unclear. This study aims to explore the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between social vulnerabilities and psychosocial problems, and the association between accumulation of vulnerabilities and psychosocial problems. 5987 children aged 2–9 years from eight European countries were assessed at baseline and 2-year follow-up. Two different instruments were employed to assess children’s psychosocial problems: the KINDL (Questionnaire for Measuring Health-Related Quality of Life in Children and Adolescents) was used to evaluate children’s well-being and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) was used to evaluate children’s internalising problems. Vulnerable groups were defined as follows: children whose parents had minimal social networks, children from non-traditional families, children of migrant origin or children with unemployed parents. Logistic mixed-effects models were used to assess the associations between social vulnerabilities and psychosocial problems. After adjusting for classical socioeconomic and lifestyle indicators, children whose parents had minimal social networks were at greater risk of presenting internalising problems at baseline and follow-up (OR 1.53, 99% CI 1.11–2.11). The highest risk for psychosocial problems was found in children whose status changed from traditional families at T0 to non-traditional families at T1 (OR 1.60, 99% CI 1.07–2.39) and whose parents had minimal social networks at both time points (OR 1.97, 99% CI 1.26–3.08). Children with one or more vulnerabilities accumulated were at a higher risk of developing psychosocial problems at baseline and follow-up. Therefore, policy makers should implement measures to strengthen the social support for parents with a minimal social network.
KeywordsVulnerable groups Psychosocial problems Well-being Internalising problems Inequalities Children
This work has been done as part of the IDEFICS Study (http://www.idefics.eu). The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the European Community within the Sixth RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 016181 (FOOD). I. I has been financed by the FPU (grant reference FPU014/00922) Predoctoral Programs (Spanish Ministry of Education and Science). We thank the IDEFICS children and their parents who generously volunteered and participated in this project.
The authors’ contributions were as follows: II carried out the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript along with NMCB designed the statistical analyses. KB, JMF-A, WG, RF, BT, and PR developed the measurement instruments; LR, SDH, MH, LAM, and TV supervised the national data collection authors read and critically reviewed the manuscript.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.
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