Well-being in 15-year-old adolescents: a matter of relationship with school

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Abstract

Background

Psychosomatic health complaints are significant indicators of adolescent well-being. The aim of this study is to describe the full set of interactions between health complaints and the presence of subjective resources, represented by the quality of relationships with parents and peers and by a positive school perception, in a population of 15-year-old adolescents. Smoking and alcohol consumption were also included in the analyses.

Methods

Bayesian networks were built for males and females separately, in order to understand the interactions among all considered variables in a representative sample of 16 018 Italian adolescents participating in the Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children survey 2009–10.

Results

The resulting networks show that school is the crucial node linking adolescents’ well-being with parents and peer relationships, as well as with smoking and alcohol consumption.

Conclusions

Adolescents' well-being, as well as the prevalence of typical risk behaviours, such as smoking and alcohol consumption, is mediated by the adolescents' academic stress. Therefore, public health interventions, to be effective, should consider addressing the school environment by making it a more inclusive environment promoting critical thinking and sense of belonging rather than just focusing on personal behaviours.

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