OBJECTIVES: The authors investigated self-perceived psychosomatic health in young people (10-24 years of age) in Sweden and analysed different samples during the years 2005 and 2007-2010 via a community website.
DESIGN: Repeated cross-sectional surveys: (1) single question on a single day in 2005. (2) One specific question delivered on each of eight separate days in 2005. (3) The same eight questions delivered to smaller groups on the same day in 2007 and then again to randomly selected subjects in 2010.
SETTING: Validated questionnaires launched on the internet by a recognised Swedish community site. Study participants were invited to answer questions about their health with full anonymity as they logged into their personal area.
PARTICIPANTS: 10-24-year-old children, adolescents and young adults. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-reported psychosomatic health in terms of sex and age over time.
RESULTS: A large number of responses were obtained (up to 140 000). The response rate for the single item on stress was 41%. A high percentage of young subjects responded that they felt stressed very often/often; the numbers were higher for women (47%) than for men (29%). Older teenaged women had more psychosomatic complaints than did men of similar ages; in contrast, among 10-12-year-old children, the percentage of psychosomatic complaints was similar for men and women. When comparing results obtained in 2010 with those obtained in 2007, young people of both sexes had a slightly better self-perceived health status in 2007.
CONCLUSIONS: During the period 2005-2010 a high percentage of young people, particularly females, 16-18 years of age, had psychosomatic complaints and considered themselves as being often or very often stressed. These complaints were more pronounced in the older age groups. When directing questions to a large community, internet-based surveys appear to be valuable tools.
2012. Vol. 2, no 4, e000681- p.