Growing up in disadvantage: a systematic review of the qualitative evidence

Child Care Health Dev. 2004 Nov;30(6):679-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2004.00480.x.


Background and objectives: Childhood disadvantage has lasting negative effects on children's health and well-being. However, the impact of poverty and associated disadvantage on children's lives as children is under-researched. This paper reviews a small, but important, group of qualitative studies that prioritize children's perspectives on growing up in disadvantage, exploring the social resources that they typically draw upon.

Methods: Systematic review methods were used to locate and appraise qualitative studies that take as their focus children's subjective accounts of living in disadvantage. Data from the studies were then synthesized using meta-ethnographic methods.

Results: Children and young people describe aspects of family relationships, friendships and neighbourhoods that help to mitigate the impact of disadvantage on their well-being. However, their accounts demonstrate that such resources are not always and unambignously experienced as supportive and protective.

Discussion: This systematic review highlights the value of social resources available to children living in poor circumstances, but also points up their limitations. Poverty, by its very nature, compromises the worth of these resources.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Psychosocial Deprivation*
  • Social Environment
  • Social Support