Background: Physical fighting is an assaultive behaviour that can lead to injury. Family affluence is a health determinant that can influence injury. This study examines the relationship between family affluence and two outcomes: physical fighting and fighting-related injury in Canadian adolescents. Three measurements were used to represent family affluence and assess whether these measures demonstrated different associations with these outcomes.
Methods: Canadian data from the 2009/2010 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Study were used. It consists of a nationally representative sample of 26,078 grade 6-10 students. A subset analysis of 10,429 grade 9-10 students was conducted to account for additional confounders. Modified Poisson regression was used to compare the risk of physical fighting and fighting-related injury in youth from different levels of family affluence. Three indicators were used to represent family affluence: self-perceived affluence, a family affluence scale (FAS), and area-level average household income.
Results: The overall prevalence was 35.6% for physical fighting and 2.7% for fighting-related injuries. Both outcomes were more frequent in males than females. An inverse gradient was present where risk for both outcomes increased with decreasing levels of affluence irrespective of the affluence measurement. The self-perceived affluence variable showed a significantly stronger gradient in girls than boys for both outcomes. For both outcomes, FAS showed a similar inverse gradient within females, but a threshold effect in males where there was a strong effect in the low FAS group, but a null effect in the moderate FAS group. The area-level income variable presented a significantly higher likelihood for physical fighting only in females (p = 0.001-0.075). For fighting-related injury, none of the area-level income models showed significant risk estimates with the exception of the bivariate association where low income females were twice as likely to report a fighting-related injury compared to higher income groups (p = 0.030). Post hoc power calculations indicate that there was not sufficient power to detect injury effects associated with the area level income measure.
Conclusion: It appears that a socioeconomic gradient exists where lower affluence is associated with a higher risk of reporting a physical fight and fighting-related injury irrespective of the measure used. While the patterns were generally the same with all three measurements, the strength of this gradient varied across measures. This demonstrates that each indicator may measure different aspects of affluence. Further analyses are needed to explore concepts and mechanisms underlying each affluence measure.