Social Determinants of Health, the Family, and Children's Personal Hygiene: A Comparative Study

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Nov 26;16(23):4713. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16234713.


Habits of personal hygiene are mostly acquired during childhood, and are, therefore, influenced by one's family. Poor hygiene habits are a risk factor for preventable disease and social rejection. Social Determinants of Health (SDH) consist of contextual factors, structural mechanisms, and the individual's socioeconomic position, which, via intermediary determinants, result in inequities of health and well-being. Dysfunctional family situations may, therefore, be generated by an unequal distribution of factors determining SDH. Little attention has been paid to the influence of the family on personal hygiene and the perception of social rejection in children. We designed a study to examine differences in personal hygiene and in the perception of social rejection between children in reception centers and children living in a family setting. A validated questionnaire on children's personal hygiene habits was completed by 51 children in reception centers and 454 children in normal families. Hygiene habits were more deficient among the children in reception centers than among the other children in all dimensions studied. Deficient hygiene habits were observed in the offspring of families affected by the main features of social inequality, who were more likely to perceive social rejection for this reason and less likely to consider their family as the greatest influence on their personal hygiene practices.

Keywords: child behaviour; child nursing; child protection; family care; inequalities in health; school health services.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Habits
  • Humans
  • Hygiene / standards*
  • Male
  • Orphanages / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Determinants of Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spain