Objectives: To determine age and gender differences in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in children and adolescents across 12 European countries using a newly developed HRQOL measure (KIDSCREEN).
Methods: The KIDSCREEN-52 questionnaire was filled in by 21,590 children and adolescents aged 8-18 from 12 countries. We used multilevel regression analyses to model the hierarchical structure of the data. In addition, effect sizes were computed to test for gender differences within each age group.
Results: Children generally showed better HRQOL than adolescents (P < 0.001). While boys and girls had similar HRQOL at young age, girls' HRQOL declined more than boys' (P < 0.001) with increasing age, depending on the HRQOL scale. There was significant variation between countries both at the youngest age and for age trajectories.
Conclusions: For the first time, gender and age differences in children's and adolescents' HRQOL across Europe were assessed using a comprehensive and standardised instrument. Gender and age differences exist for most HRQOL scales. Differences in HRQOL across Europe point to the importance of national contexts for youth's well-being.