Health at age 11: reports from schoolchildren and their parents

Sweeting, H. and West, P. (1998) Health at age 11: reports from schoolchildren and their parents. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 78(5), pp. 427-434. (doi: 10.1136/adc.78.5.427)

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OBJECTIVE: To present self reports by children and reports by parents on behalf of their children relating to general health, current conditions, and recent symptoms. DESIGN: Questionnaires completed by children and parents as part of the longitudinal “West of Scotland 11 to 16 study: teenage health.” SETTING: 135 primary schools in Central Clydeside. SUBJECTS: 2586 children aged 11 years, surveyed from October 1994 to March 1995 (response rate 93%). Questionnaires also completed by parents of 86% of the sample. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Ratings of health over the past 12 months, presence of (limiting) longstanding illness, nine current conditions, and 11 recent symptoms. RESULTS: Only 47% of children described their health as “good” in the previous year. Around 20% reported a longstanding illness and 8% a limiting illness; 20% reported migraine or headaches, 13% reported asthma. Recent stomach aches or sickness, colds or flu, and headaches were each reported by around 60%. “Malaise” (emotional) symptoms were common. Parents reported similar levels of (limiting) longstanding illness, but rates of conditions and symptoms reported by parents were lower than reported by their children. Parent–child agreement was greatest for the presence of longstanding illness and the conditions of asthma, diabetes, and skin problems. It was lower for recent symptoms, particularly those categorised as reflecting malaise. CONCLUSIONS: These results challenge assumptions of good health and wellbeing at this age. Illness reporting depends on various factors, including saliency, social desirability, and definitions of normality. Parent–child discrepancies may reflect different definitions of illness or symptoms; they do not mean that one should be dismissed as “wrong.”

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: Sweeting, H., and West, P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Archives of Disease in Childhood
Journal Abbr.:Arch. Dis. Child.
Publisher:B M J Group
ISSN (Online):1468-2044

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