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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2009 Mar;44(3):231-8. doi: 10.1007/s00127-008-0424-z. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

Socioeconomic position and mental health problems in pre- and early-adolescents: the TRAILS study.

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Interdisciplinary Centre for Psychiatric Epidemiology, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.



Family socioeconomic position (SEP) is known to be associated with adolescent mental health. Whether the relationship is different for different mental health dimensions is unknown.


Using a cross-sectional design, we investigated the differential effects of family SEP on multiple mental health dimensions in preadolescents (N = 2230, baseline age 10-12, 49% boys) using reports from multiple informants (parent, self, and teachers). A score equal to or higher than the 85th percentile (averaged across informants) defined mental health problems.


SEP was inversely associated with all dimensions. Compared to high SEP, the odds ratios (OR) for externalizing problems were 3.88 (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.56, 5.90) and 2.05 (CI: 1.34, 3.14) for low and intermediate SEP, respectively. For internalizing problems, they were 1.86 (CI: 1.28, 2.70) and 1.37 (CI: 0.94, 2.00), respectively. When adjusted for externalizing problems, SEP effects on internalizing problems materially attenuated (OR: 1.47, CI: 0.78, 1.68 and OR: 1.34, CI: 0.91, 1.96) while the converse was less pronounced (OR: 3.39, CI: 2.24, 5.15) and (OR: 1.91, CI: 1.25, 2.94).


In early adolescence, the risk of mental health problems increases with decreasing SEP, particularly for externalizing problems. Further, the SEP-internalizing problems relationship is partly explained by shared aspects with externalizing problems.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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