Trends in gender and socioeconomic inequalities in the health of adolescents over the age of 16 (2002-2018): results from the study on the health behaviors of school-aged children in Canada

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Health Promot Chronic Dis Prev Can. 2022 Feb;42(2):68-78. doi: 10.24095/hpcdp.42.2.03.


INTRODUCTION: Tracking adolescent health inequalities informs policy approaches to reduce these inequalities early in life. The purpose of this study was to investigate trends in gender and socioeconomic inequalities in six domains of health.

METHODS: Data were from five quadrennial survey cycles of the Health Behavior in School-Aged Children (HBSC) study in Canada (pooled n = 94,887 participants). Differences in health between socioeconomic groups (based on material deprivation) and between sexes were assessed using slope indices and relative indices of inequality in six health domains: activity daily physical activity, excess weight, frequent physical symptoms, frequent psychological symptoms, low life satisfaction, and fair or poor self-rated health status.

RESULTS: Over a 16-year period, adolescents in Canada reported progressive deterioration in their health across four health domains, with those in the lowest socioeconomic position showing the most pronounced declines. Socioeconomic differences increased in excess weight, physical symptoms, low life satisfaction, and fair or poor health status. Gender differences have also increased. Women had poorer health than men in all domains except excess weight, and gender differences increased over time in physical symptoms, psychological symptoms, and health. low life satisfaction.

CONCLUSION: Socioeconomic and gender inequalities in health persist and widen among adolescents in Canada. Policies that address the material and social factors that contribute to health disparities in adolescence are warranted.

PMID:35170931 | DOI: 10.24095/hpcdp.42.2.03

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