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Childhood friendships and adult health: Findings from the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s Cohort study
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS).
2012 (English)In: European Journal of Public Health, ISSN 1101-1262, E-ISSN 1464-360X, Vol. 22, no 3, 378-383 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social relations are known to influence morbidity and mortality but few have studied this association from a life-course perspective specifically targeting the importance of social relations in childhood for adult health. In childhood, a key aspect of children’s relationships is the number of friendships a child has in the school class, i.e. friendship quantity. The overall aim of this study was to examine the association between childhood friendships and adult self-rated health. Data from a longitudinal study of children born in Aberdeen, Scotland, between 1950 and 1956 was used. Information on friendship quantity (1964) was derived from sociometric nominations among classmates and defined as mutual choices. The health outcome was based on self-ratings derived from a questionnaire in 2001-2003. The study included various childhood and adult circumstances as possible explanatory factors. The analysis was based on ordinal logistic regression, producing odds ratios (n=5,814). The results demonstrated a gradient in women’s self-rated health according to the number of friendships in the school class. A number of circumstances in childhood and adulthood were partial explanations. For men, only those without friends reported poorer self-rated health in adulthood. This finding was explained by adult socioeconomic status. It is concluded that childhood friendships are linked to health disparities in middle age, underlining the importance of such relationships and the need for a life-course perspective on health that integrates a variety of mechanisms as they interact across life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 22, no 3, 378-383 p.
Keyword [en]
Social relations, Childhood, Self-rated health, Birth cohort, Longitudinal
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-55626DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckr045ISI: 000304529400018OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-55626DiVA: diva2:405699
Available from: 2011-03-23 Created: 2011-03-23 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. A class of origin: The school class as a social context and health disparities in a life-course perspective
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A class of origin: The school class as a social context and health disparities in a life-course perspective
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of the present thesis is to examine various aspects of the school-class structure and their links to health in a life-course perspective. The empirical studies are based on two longitudinal data materials of cohorts born in the 1950s, followed up until middle age.

In the first study, the overall status distribution in the school class was shown to be associated with both minor psychiatric disorder in childhood and self-rated health in adulthood. Thus, ill-health was more common among individuals who attended school classes less equal in terms of status.

The second study demonstrated that it was more common among those who had fewer mutual friendships in the school class to report poorer health as adults. Socioeconomic career emerged as the primary explanation for men while, for women, these findings were largely unaccounted for by any of the included child and adult circumstances.

Findings from the third study suggested the child’s status position in the school class, i.e. peer status, to be related to a wide range of health outcomes in adulthood. In particular, lower peer status was linked to an excess risk of mental and behavioural disorders, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Childhood social class did not confound these associations to any large extent.

The fourth study examined two types of social isolation in the school class: marginalisation (low peer status) and friendlessness. Hospitalisation due to any disease was more common among marginalised children compared to among non-isolates, whereas no corresponding association was found for the friendless. For both types of isolates, the number of hospitalisations was greater than among non-isolated individuals. Of the studied childhood factors, scholastic ability emerged as an important mechanism.

In sum, this thesis points to the relevance of the school class for health development across the life course and to the complexity of pathways through which influences of the school class may operate.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Sociology, Stockholm University, 2011. 91 p.
Series
Health Equity Studies, ISSN 1651-5390 ; 16
Keyword
Children, School class, Social structure, Social networks, Health inequalities, Longitudinal
National Category
Sociology
Research subject
Sociology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-55628 (URN)978-91-7447-246-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2011-05-20, hörsal 4, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note
At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted. Paper 2: Accepted. Available from: 2011-04-28 Created: 2011-03-23 Last updated: 2011-04-08Bibliographically approved

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