Stefan Nygaard Hansen

Pre-adolescents with multiple health complaints redeem more prescriptions: A follow-up study in the Danish National Birth Cohort

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Aims: This study aimed to examine the association between multiple health complaints (MHC) in pre-adolescence and prescription redemption in adolescence. Methods: This was a nationwide population-based study based on the Danish National Birth Cohort for an average of 6.9 years (2010-2018). A total of 96,382 children were invited at the age of 11. A modified version of the Health Behaviour in School Children Symptom Checklist was dichotomised into the World Health Organization's definition of MHC (⩾2 complaints, each with a frequency of at least weekly, yes/no). The number of prescriptions was retrieved from Danish registries. Negative binomial regression estimated incidence rate ratios (IRRs) comparing children with MHC to children without. Prescription redemption was further stratified by psychiatric/somatic medication and into subtypes of prescriptions. Results: A total of 47,365 (49.1%) children participated (Mage=11.2 years, 52% girls). MHC were reported by 10.3%. The unadjusted IRR (MHC vs. no MHC) of all types of redemptions was 1.57 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.49-1.64). Results were robust to adjustment for socio-demographic variables and somatic/psychiatric morbidity at baseline (IRR=1.47; 95% CI 1.40-1.54). Associations were especially strong for psychiatric medication (adjusted IRR=3.88; 95% CI 3.43-4.40) and were modified by neither sex nor maternal education. Conclusions: MHC in pre-adolescents predict prescription redemption. This implies that changes in MHC might be indicative of changes in public health. This requires further study, as the cause of a change in reporting of symptoms might also cause a change in treatment response. The latter determines whether prescriptions are treating ill-being or needlessly medicalising subjective symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Book seriesScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Volume50
Issue8
Pages (from-to)1071-1080
Number of pages10
ISSN1403-4956
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

    Research areas

  • HBSC-SCL, Health Behaviour in School Children Symptom Checklist, MHC, Public health, adolescent health, adolescent psychiatry, adolescent well-being, multiple health complaints, Birth Cohort, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Denmark/epidemiology, Adolescent, Female, Registries, Child, Prescriptions, Schools

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