Subjective social status is an important determinant of perceived stress among adolescents: a cross-sectional study

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BACKGROUND: Stress is an increasing public health problem, and the association between stress and subjective social status (SSS) among adolescents has received little attention. SSS in society have shown to be associated with perceived stress, but the association between SSS in school and stress has never been examined. The aim of this study was to explore the association between SSS and perceived stress in Danish adolescent boys and girls.

METHODS: Data was collected in 2017 in frame of The Danish Occupation of Children and Adolescents Cohort (FOCA cohort), where Danish 9th graders (age 15/16) from 1746 schools participated in a survey (4527 girls, 3654 boys, aged 15 to 16 years). SSS in society and SSS in school were the exposure variables, and the level of perceived stress was the outcome variable. Associations between SSS in school and in society separately with perceived stress was analysed using linear regression models stratified by gender and adjusted to social and health-related factors (e.g. neighbourhood safety, home characteristics, grade meaning, homework load, self-rated health, smoking, alcohol consumption).

RESULTS: The mean overall PSS score was 14.7; for girls the score was 16.3, and for boys it was 12.6. The analyses revealed a strong linear association between SSS, in both society and school, and perceived stress. The lower the SSS, the higher perceived stress. The associations were the same for both genders, but girls reported a higher level of stress than did boys.

CONCLUSION: We found that girls reported a higher level of perceived stress than boys. Furthermore, we found a strong association between low SSS in society and especially SSS in school and a high level of perceived stress among Danish adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Article number396
JournalBMC Public Health
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Adolescents, Gender differences, Perceived stress, Subjective social status, POPULATION, PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESS, INCOME, RISK, SYMPTOMS, HEALTH, ASSOCIATION, SOCIOECONOMIC-STATUS

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