Health complaints among adolescents in Norway: A twenty-year perspective on trends
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Purpose: Examine time trends in health complaints among adolescents in Norway between 1994 and 2014 and among population subgroups, e.g., age and gender, as well as their interactions.
Methods: Norwegian data on 11-16-year-olds were drawn from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey (HBSC) and analyzed for 1994 (n = 4,952), 1998 (n = 5,026), 2002 (n = 5,023), 2006 (n = 4,711), 2010 (n = 4,342) and 2014 (n = 3,422). Design adjusted linear regression that accounts for clustering effects was used to examine mean scores of two subscales of the HBSC-symptom checklist: psychological and somatic health complaints.
Results: Psychological and somatic health complaints among adolescents in Norway followed somewhat different trajectories, but the mean scores of both types of health complaints appeared to increase during the 20-year period. For psychological health complaints, there was a three-way interaction between age, gender and time, indicating that increasing trends in health complaints depended on both age and gender, in which older adolescent girls had a greater increase over time relative to younger adolescents and boys.
Conclusions: Findings from this study, together with earlier findings, suggest that there has been an increasing trend in health complaints among adolescents in Norway from 1994 to 2014, especially among older adolescent girls. Future research should examine if trends in health complaints also depend on gender and age in other contexts. This will help the planning and implementation of tailored and effective interventions.