Trends in social inequalities in adolescent health complaints from 1994 to 2010 in Europe, North America and Israel: The HBSC study

Moor, Irene; Richter, Matthias; Ravens-Sieberer, Ulrike; Ottová-Jordan, Veronika; Elgar, Frank J.; Pförtner, Timo-Kolja
April 2015
European Journal of Public Health;2015 Supplement, Vol. 25 Issue suppl_2, p57
Academic Journal
Background: Studies have shown constant or increasing health inequalities in adulthood in the last decades, but less is known about trends in health inequalities among adolescents. The aim is to analyse changes in socioeconomic differences in subjective health complaints from 1994 to 2010 among 11- to 15-year-olds in Europe, North America and Israel. Methods: Data were obtained from the international 'Health Behaviour in School-aged Children' (HBSC) survey. Analyses were based on the HBSC surveys conducted in 1994 (19 countries), 1998 (25 countries), 2002 (32 countries), 2006 (37 countries) and 2010 (36 countries) covering a time period of up to 16 years. Log binomial regression models were used to assess inequalities in multiple health complaints. Socioeconomic position was measured using perceived family wealth. Results: Inequalities in multiple health complaints emerged in almost all countries, in particular since 2002 (RR 1.1-1.7). Trend analyses showed stable (29 countries), increased (5 countries), decreased (one country) and no social inequalities (2 countries) in adolescent health complaints. Conclusion: In almost all countries, social inequalities in health complaints remained constant over a period of up to 16 years. Our findings suggest a need to intensify efforts in social and health policy to tackle existing inequalities.


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