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Trends in adolescent psychosomatic complaints: a quantile regression analysis of Swedish HBSC data 1985–2017
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work. Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Demographic and Ageing Research (CEDAR).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0199-0435
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6867-6205
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3749-998x
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Global Health.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6720-2430
2023 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1403-4948, E-ISSN 1651-1905, Vol. 51, p. 619-624Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background and aims: According to recent criticism, survey-based measures of adolescent psychosomatic complaints have poor content validity insofar as they conflate trivial with severe complaints. It is argued that this means that estimates of prevalence and trends in complaints may reflect trivial complaints that are not indicators of health problems. In this study, two observable implications of this criticism were investigated: (a) that self-reported psychosomatic complaints should have a bimodal distribution; and (b) that the increase in complaints over time should be of approximately equal size throughout the distribution of complaints.

Methods: Three decades (1985/1986–2017/2018) of repeated cross-sectional data from the Swedish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey were used. Psychosomatic complaints were measured using the screening instrument Health Behaviour in School-aged Children symptom checklist. Histograms, bar charts and quantile regression models were used for the analysis.

Results and conclusions: With regard to the first implication, the results showed that the distribution of complaints was not bimodal and that there were no clusters of respondents. This suggests that binary categorisations of students can be reductive and conceal important variations across students. With regard to the second implication, the results showed that the increase in complaints was greatest among students who report frequent and co-occurring complaints. This suggests that reports of increasing complaints in adolescents cannot be explained as being primarily due to a greater inclination to report trivial complaints. It is concluded that any conflation of trivial and more severe complaints in surveys of psychosomatic complaints is not reflected in population-based estimates.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2023. Vol. 51, p. 619-624
Keywords [en]
Adolescents, children, health complaints, psychosomatic, mental health, temporal trends, HBSC, Sweden
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Research subject
Public health
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-194508DOI: 10.1177/14034948221094497ISI: 000796285200001Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85132638212OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-194508DiVA, id: diva2:1656829
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 2018–03870_3Forte, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, 2015-00048Available from: 2022-05-08 Created: 2022-05-08 Last updated: 2023-07-14Bibliographically approved

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Högberg, BjörnStrandh, MattiasJohansson, KlaraPetersen, Solveig

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Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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