Body and soul : studies on health and psychosomatic complaints among adolescents in Sweden

Sammanfattning: Objective: The aim of this thesis is to describe the health of the adolescents with special emphasis on psychosomatic complaints. Method: Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to get a insight into the adolescents health. The results presented in papers I-IV are based on the records from the five cross-sectional school surveys that so far have been conducted under the name of "Survey of Adolescent Life in Vestmanland", SALVe surveys. For papers I-III, data were collected from the second cross-sectional study performed in1998. The data of paper IV, came from all five surveys conducted in 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2006. In paper V, focus group discussions were used to obtain the adolescents views on the cause of psychosomatic complaints. Main findings: The self-reported general health of the adolescents as a group was good. However, when the group was divided; first, by gender and thereafter into weight groups, there were relatively large differences in their perceived health. The large increase in overweight and obesity that was reported by other authors was also found in our study. The obese boys experienced many more symptoms off ill health including those that are related to psychosomatic complaints than the other boys. Sense of coherence had a big influence on the development of psychosomatic complaints. Individuals with a high sense of coherence had fewer psychosomatic symptoms. Boys scored higher than girls in sense of coherence scale, as has been found in other studies. Girls had higher prevalence of psychosomatic complaints than the boys. The increase in reported psychosomatic complaints over a twelve-year period among girls were twofold over the period studied. The boys did not have the same development, there was a slight increase over time but, on the whole, the prevalence remained more or less constant. In the focus group discussions there were big differences in the opinion between the boys and the girls on the causes of psychosomatic complaints. With the boys discussing physical factors while the girls emotional factors. Conclusions: The development of health problems over time between the genders is very different. The girls as a group seems to be suffering from many more health related problems than the boys. This makes it important to consider this in tailoring for any kind of interventions.

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