Peer status in school related to adult disease risk

January 01, 0001

Peer status in school related to adult disease risk

Children have a social status position of their own, apart from that of the family, that may have an impact on short-term and long- term health. The aim of the present study by a researcher from Sweden was to analyse the associations between childhood social status in school (ie, peer status) and disease-specific morbidity in adulthood. Data were derived from a longitudinal study using a 1953 cohort born in Stockholm, Sweden: The Stockholm Birth Cohort Study (1953-2003). Peer status was sociometrically assessed in sixth grade (1966).

The results indicate that the lower the childhood peer status, the higher the overall adult disease risk. There were, however, differences in the degree and magnitude to which disease-specific inpatient care varied with peer status. Some of the steepest gradients were found for mental and behavioural disorders (eg, alcohol abuse and drug dependence), external causes (eg, suicide) and various lifestyle-related diseases (eg, ischaemic heart disease and diabetes). The results were not explained by childhood social class.

The researcher concluded: "The present study underlines the importance of recognising children’s social position, apart from that of their family, for later health. Not only psychologically related diseases but also those related to behavioural risk factors demonstrate some of the largest relative differences by peer status, suggesting that health-related behaviour may be one important mechanism in the association between peer status and morbidity."

This may be chicken and egg for some mental disorders, but is fascinating for disorders such as diabetes. Wonderful to see data over 30 years.

For the full abstract, click here.

J Epidemiol Community Health December 2009;63:1028-1034
© 2010 by the BMJ Publishing Group Ltd
Peer status in school and adult disease risk: a 30-year follow-up study of disease-specific morbidity in a Stockholm cohort. Y Almquist. Correspondence to: Y Almquist:

Category: P. Psychological. Keywords: peer, status, school, adult, disease, risk, morbidity, longitudinal study, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor BLANK 2010

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