This report investigates whether social inequalities in health, life style and use of health services, as we know them from the adult population, exist also among children aged 8 – 13 in Akershus County. We have assessed the impact of the following factors:
- Household income
- Parents’ educational level
- Whether both parents are Norwegian
- Whether the child is living with both it’s parents
- The child’s age and gender Background The connection between socioeconomic factors, illness and use of health services among children is seldom studied in Norway. The data for this report were collected in the Health Profile Survey, conducted among pupils in all municipalities in Akershus county in 2002. A total of 16.480 children and 14. 698 parents filled in the questionnaires.
The use of health services depend primarily upon the occurrence and the seriousness of illness and disease. The somatic health services, especially the use of general practitioners and emergency units, are used to a greater extent if the parents have higher education. Boys with asthma, allergy or eczema use somatic specialist services more often than girls.
The use of primary psychiatric care decreases by income and length of education, and is by far greater for boys. Children who do not live with both mother and father, are much more often than others in contact with psychiatric specialist services. A greater proportion of children with psychological or psychiatric troubles do not have any contact with psychiatric specialist services.
Some somatic illnesses occur more often if the parents do not have a higher education or if the income is low. The occurrence of diabetes and epilepsy does not vary with any of the factors we studied.
Diseases of the respiratory system or other serious illness or injuries occur less if both parents are Norwegian.
Psychological symptoms and troubles occur more often if the child is not living with both it’s parents, if the parents do not have long education or if the income is low. Separately none of these factors have a strong correlation with morbidity, but if more factors occur together it may be connected with a considerable increase in morbidity. The exception to this is psychosomatic symptoms occurring more often when the parents have higher education.
Life style factors such as frequent sports or exercise, and a healthy diet are connected with reduced prevalence of a lot of illnesses and diseases, both somatic and psychological.