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Open Access Research article

The wider social environment and changes in self-reported quality of life in the transition from late childhood to early adolescence: a cohort study

Marjan Drukker12*, Charles Kaplan13, Josien Schneiders1, Frans JM Feron2 and Jim van Os14

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, South Limburg Mental Health Research and Teaching Network, EURON, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

2 Youth Health Care Division, Municipal Health Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands

3 Graduate School of Social Work, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, US

4 Division of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UK

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:133  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-133

Published: 17 May 2006

Abstract

Background

Neighbourhood socioeconomic disadvantage and social capital have been associated with adolescent well-being, but the majority of studies were cross-sectional, and the time window over which the neighbourhood may impact on development is unknown. Therefore, the contribution of the neighbourhood environment to adolescents' quality of life and the course of these effects during the period of transition from childhood to early adolescence was examined.

Methods

A cohort of adolescents living in Maastricht (The Netherlands), with a mean age of 11.2 years at baseline and of 13.5 years at follow-up was followed. Adolescents who responded both at baseline and at follow-up were included in the analysis (n = 475). Multilevel regression analyses estimated neighbourhood effects while controlling for individual-level effects. Neighbourhood-level socioeconomic and social capital variables, individual-level confounders, and baseline values of the outcome measures were included in the models.

Results

None of the neighbourhood factors was associated with changes in general health or mental health over the two-year period. However, two-year exposure to greater disparity between individual level socioeconomic status on the one hand and neighbourhood level of socioeconomic status on the other (e.g. high socioeconomic status adolescents living in deprived neighbourhoods and vice versa) negatively impacted on self-esteem and satisfaction.

Conclusion

The neighbourhood environment

    per se
does not contribute to change in quality of life during the transition to early adolescence. However, adolescents living in families whose socioeconomic status deviates from the mean level of neighbourhood socioeconomic deprivation may be negatively affected.