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Arch Hellen Med, 2007, 24(Supplement 1):19-29


The association between socio-economic status and mental disorders in late adolescence:
Cross sectional survey in the northwestern part of Greece

Department of Psychiatry, University of Ioannina, School of Medicine, Ioannina, Greece

OBJECTIVE Psychiatric morbidity during adolescence is quite prevalent. The aim of the present study was to investigate the socio-economic determinants of psychiatric morbidity among adolescents living in the northwestern part of Greece.

METHOD Cross-sectional study of 2,363 adolescents aged 15-18 years old attending 10 secondary schools in northwestern Greece. The study was carried out in two phases: in the first phase subjects were screened with a symptoms' questionnaire. In the second phase, a stratified random sampling of the students was selected (n=875) with the probability of selection based on the scores of the screening questionnaire. Psychiatric morbidity was assessed in the second phase with the administration of the "revised clinical interview schedule" (CIS-R). Socio-economic variables included parents' education and employment status, subjective assessment of the family's financial difficulties by the adolescents and school performance as a measure of the adolescents' social position in school.

RESULTS 12.5% of the adolescents (girls: 18.5%, boys: 6.8%) had clinically significant "psychiatric morbidity" (during the past week). No statistically significant association was found with parental education, father's occupation or adolescents' social position. A significant positive linear association was confirmed between adolescents' psychiatric morbidity and the family's financial difficulties. Mother's unemployment was associated with psychiatric morbidity in girls only.

CONCLUSIONS These findings partially support the "social equalization" hypothesis in adolescent health. Nevertheless, significant socio-economic inequalities are also reported in this period of life, especially when subjective measures of socio-economic status are used.

Key words: Αdolescent, Mental disorders/epidemiology, Socieconomic factors.

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