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Drug Alcohol Rev. 2012 Nov;31(7):861-70. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2012.00424.x. Epub 2012 Mar 7.

Health-related lifestyle, physical and mental health in children of alcoholic parents.

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1
Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University in Ljubljana, Slovenia. masa.serec@gmail.com

Abstract

AIM:

To identify potential differences between children of alcoholics (COAs) and controls in their health-related lifestyle, mental and physical health.

METHODS:

The recruitment of COAs took place in inpatient and outpatient treatment and rehabilitation units. Controls were recruited in elementary and high schools. 57 COAs (72% response rate) and 84 controls (88% response rate) aged between 12 and 18 years completed a postal questionnaire about their health-related lifestyle, and mental and physical health.

RESULTS:

Bivariate analysis showed that COAs' families have higher unemployment rates and lower economic status (P = 0.000). COAs reported poorer school performance (P = 0.000), spending more time in sedentary (television: P = 0.000, Internet: P = 0.014, music: P = 0.040) and less time in physical activities (P = 0.048), having poorer eating habits (fruits and vegetables: P = 0.001, sweets: P = 0.001, fast food: P = 0.000, soft drinks: P = 0.004), a higher substance use (cigarettes: P = 0.030; marijuana: P = 0.564, heavy drinking: P = 0.050) and more mental health difficulties (emotional symptoms: P = 0.015, conduct problems: P = 0.012, suicidal tendencies: P = 0.007, mental disorder: P = 0.040). Among COAs, girls reported more emotional and somatic symptoms compared to boys (P = 0.020 and P = 0.047, respectively). Multivariate analysis showed that after controlling for socioeconomic status, significant mental health and health-related lifestyle inequalities between COAs and controls persist.

CONCLUSION:

Our findings suggest that COAs have a less healthy lifestyle and more mental health difficulties above and beyond the poorer economic environment they live in.

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