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BMC Health Serv Res. 2007 Sep 24;7:151.

Self-reported social class in adolescents: validity and relationship with gradients in self-reported health.

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Institut CatalĂ  de la Salut, Barcelona, Spain.



Analyzing social differences in the health of adolescents is a challenge. The accuracy of adolescent's report on familial socio-economic position is unknown. The aims of the study were to examine the validity of measuring occupational social class and family level of education reported by adolescents aged 12 to 18, and the relationship between social position and self-reported health.


A sample of 1453 Spanish adolescents 12 to 18 years old from urban and rural areas completed a self-administered questionnaire including the Child Health and Illness Profile-Adolescent Edition (CHIP-AE), and data on parental occupational social class (OSC) and level of education (LE). The responsible person for a sub-sample of teenagers (n = 91) were interviewed by phone. Kappa coefficients were estimated to analyze agreement between adolescents and proxy-respondents, and logistic regression models were adjusted to analyze factors associated with missing answers and disagreements. Effect size (ES) was calculated to analyze the relationship between OSC, LE and the CHIP-AE domain scores.


Missing answers were higher for father's (24.2%) and mother's (45.7%) occupational status than for parental education (8.4%, and 8.1% respectively), and belonging to a non-standard family was associated with more incomplete reporting of social position (OR = 4,98; 95%CI = 1,3-18,8) as was agreement between a parent and the adolescent. There were significant social class gradients, most notably for aspects of health related to resilience to threats to illness.


Adolescents can acceptably self-report on family occupation and level of education. Social class gradients are present in important aspects of health in adolescents.

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