The role of school context in the increase in young people´s health complaints in Finland
Journal of Adolescence, 28:1, 1–16 (2005)
According to biological indicators trends in young people´s health appear favourable, but the psychosocial aspects suggest a different pattern. We studied the differences across schools in common health complaints and in three groups of factors behind them: pupils’ individual characteristics, family related factors and school-related factors. Multilevel linear regression models were used to analyse repeated cross-sectional data from Finnish 8th and 9th graders (14- and 15-year-olds, n=60,347) in 109 schools that were surveyed in 1996, 1998 and 2000. Common health complaints increased steadily during the follow-up for all schools and they varied across schools. Both individual and school-level factors contributed significantly to the variation in common health complaints. The study suggests that young people´s psychosocial health involves a range of influences deriving from individual susceptibility and from the social and educational functioning of schools. However, none of these factors can account for the rapid decrease in young people´s psychosocial health.
Keywords: Finland, adolescence, adolescents, health, schools