Objective: To examine parent and adolescent agreement on physical, emotional, mental and social health and well-being in a representative population.
Methodology: An epidemiological design was used to obtain parent-child/adolescent dyad data on comparable items and scales of a generic measure of health and well-being, the Child Health Questionnaire (parent/proxy report 50 item, self-report 80 item). Scale analysis included intraclass correlations (ICCs) to examine strength of parent-child associations and independent t-tests for differences between adolescents (with or without an illness). Where there were significant differences in scale scores, analysis of variance and two sample t-tests were used to examine the influence of social, demographic, health concern and school variables. Single items were examined for trends in response categories.
Results: 2096 parent-adolescent dyads (adolescent mean age of 15.1 years, males 50%, maternal parent 83.2%, biological parent 93.5%). ICCs were strong. Overall, adolescents reported poorer emotional and social health, and clinically significant differences were observed for perceptions of general health (mean difference 8.1/100), frequency and amount of body pain (5.94/100), experience of mental health (5.14/100), and impact of health on family activities (12.43/100), which widen significantly for adolescents with illness. Social, health and school enjoyment and performance significantly widened parent-child differences.
Conclusions: All adolescents were much less optimistic about their health and well-being than their parents, and were only in close agreement on aspects of health and well-being they rated highly. Adolescent reports are more likely to be sensitive to pain, mental health problems, health in general and the impact of their health on family activities.