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Cogent Medicine ; 8, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1617069

ABSTRACT

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the lives of young people and increased the risks for deteriorated health and widening health gaps. Aim: The aim is to analyse the associations between socioeconomic position and worry triggered by the pandemic and their associations with psychosomatic problems. Methods: From December 2020 to March 2021, 3068 16-17 years old students in Sweden completed a questionnaire about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their schooling and everyday life. The response rate was 32 %, and the data were therefore weighted based on sociodemographic factors to take account of potential bias caused by the non-responses. During the spring semester of 2020, around two-thirds of the students also responded to questions about their psychosomatic health. Multinomial logistic regression was applied to analyse the associations between socioeconomic position (parental education) and worry about different personal and family issues. Binary logistic regression was used to analyse the association between worry and psychosomatic problems. Results: The association between socioeconomic position and worry showed a consistent pattern. Across almost all worry themes, the odds of experiencing worry often or always was higher for students with lower educated parents compared to higher educated parents. The odds for having to worry often/always about family finances was four times higher among students in the former group than the latter, controlling for sex. The magnitude of the association was about the same for worry about parental unemployment. In addition, also worry about personal and parental illness caused by COVID-19 showed strong associations with socioeconomic position. Worry was also clearly associated with students' psychosomatic health. Students who often or always experienced worry were more likely to report psychosomatic problems. Worries for personal and parental illness and family finances showed the highest odds ratios, controlling sex and parental education. Conclusions: The results demonstrate that worry related to COVID-19 about personal and family issues during the pandemic are socially structured. The socioeconomic position is associated with worry in similar ways that are common for health and health-related behaviors. Negative impacts of the pandemic are more common among students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds compared to higher ones. In addition, the significant associations between different worry themes and psychosomatic problems among students are noticeable. While the current study does not allow for conclusions about causality, the results indicate that experiences of worry during the pandemic may increase the risk of deteriorated mental health and inequalities among young people.

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