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Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health 2005;38(4): 391-400.
Socioeconomic Differentials in Health and Health Related Behaviors: Findings from the Korea Youth Panel Survey.
Young Ho Khang, Sung Il Cho, Seungmi Yang, Moo Song Lee
1Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Korea.
2School of Public Health and Institute of Health and Environment, Seoul National University, Korea.
3Department of Epidemiology & Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Korea.
OBJECTIVE: This study examined the socioeconomic differentials for the health and health related behaviors among South Korean middle school students. METHODS: A nationwide cross-sectional interview survey of 3, 449 middle school second-grade students and their parents was conducted using a stratified multi-stage cluster sampling method. The response rate was 93.3%. The socioeconomic position indicators were based on selfreported information from the students and their parents: parental education, father's occupational class, monthly family income, out-of-pocket expenditure for education, housing ownership, educational expectations, educational performance and the perceived economic hardships. The outcome variables that were measured were also based on the self-reported information from the students. The health measures included self-rated health conditions, psychological or mental problems, the feelings of loneliness at school, the overall satisfaction of life and the perceived level of stress. The health related behaviors included were smoking, alcohol drinking, sexual intercourse, violence, bullying and verbal and physical abuse by parents. RESULTS: Socioeconomic differences for the health and health related behaviors were found among the eighth grade boys and girls of South Korea. However, the pattern varied with gender, the socioeconomic position indicators and the outcome measures. The prevalence rates of the overall dissatisfaction with life for both genders differed according to most of the eight socioeconomic position indicators. All the health measures were significantly different according to the perceived economic hardship. However, the socioeconomic differences in the self-rated health conditions and the psychosocial or mental problems were not clear. The students having higher socioeconomic position tended to be a perpetrator of bullying while those students with lower socioeconomic position were more likely to be a victim. CONCLUSIONS: The perceived economic hardships predicted the health status among the eighth graders of South Korea. The overall satisfaction of life was associated with the socioeconomic position indicators. Further research efforts are needed to explore the mechanisms on how and why the socioeconomic position affects the health and health related behaviors in this age group.
Key words: Adolescents; Health status; Health behaviors; Socioeconomic position; South Korea
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