Purpose: To evaluate a new generic measure of adolescent health status, the self-report version of the Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ), and provide population-based data. Furthermore, we aimed to examine the impact of common adolescent illness and health concerns on their health and well-being.
Methods: A stratified, two-stage, random cluster sampling design was used to obtain a cross-sectional sample of subjects through schools. A written questionnaire included the 80-item 12-scale self-report CHQ and items measuring health concerns, illnesses/health conditions, and sociodemographics.
Results: A total of 2361 adolescents participated (response rate of 70%). Reliability was high: Tests of internal consistency and discriminant validity reported 90% of item-scale correlations >.4; all scales had Cronbach alpha coefficients >.7. Adolescents with illnesses/conditions or health concerns reported lower scores and larger differences for content-related scales, supporting content and construct validity. Statistically significant age and gender trends were observed for Mental Health, Self-Esteem, General Health, and Family Cohesion scales. Health status worsened as health concerns increased (X(2) linear trend, p =.00) with deterioration in health of 5-20% on all scales for emotional health concerns (40% of sample).
Conclusions: The self-report CHQ is a reliable and seemingly valid measure of health and well-being for adolescent health research, although additional measures may be required where scales have high ceiling values. The significantly lower scores reported by adolescents with illness and/or health concerns lend support to the use of standardized health measures and longitudinal research to further examine the impact of adolescent comorbidities and their causal determinants.