Self-reported health status and use of medical care by 3,500 adolescents in western Sweden. II. Could clustering of symptoms and certain background factors help identify troubled young people?

Acta Paediatr Scand. 1991 Aug-Sep;80(8-9):844-51. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1991.tb11959.x.


A descriptive study has been reported regarding some 3,500 persons aged 13-18, who anonymously answered a questionnaire regarding their health. This is a further analysis of the data from this study. The main finding is that students seem to say important things about themselves by "somatizing". Roughly one third of the students who stated that they were not feeling healthy had had suicidal thoughts, while only one tenth of those who stated they were healthy said they had had such thoughts. School drop-outs who might have serious troubles, were overrepresented among those with many medical complaints, suicidal thoughts and high rates of self-initiated medical visits. "Bad mood" turned out to be another such marker of distress with high rates of medical complaints and medical consultations. Admitting to use of alcohol, cigarettes and or illicit drugs was also related to aspects of bad health. Female gender and not living with both parents were correlated with significant adolescent distress. A factor called "perceived social age" also turned out to be significantly connected with distress. This factor was the difference between chronological age and the adolescent's estimation of what age others perceived him as being. Those who indicated a perceived social age of at least two years above their chronological age were more depressed, had more medical complaints and more often used alcohol and cigarettes than those who perceived themselves as "socially the right age". The present study does not permit conclusions as to what was considered the basis for "perceived social age".

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Age Factors
  • Family
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Perception
  • Sweden