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How discrimination and participation are associated with psychosomatic problems among boys and girls in northern Sweden

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DOI: 10.4236/health.2012.410132    4,060 Downloads   5,933 Views   Citations


Background: Negative impact on health from school disturbance due to asymmetric power relations such as discrimination and offensive treatment are frequent problems among students. This study sought to analyze associations between occurrence of discrimination at schools, participation and psychosomatic problems. Methods: Pupils in grades 6 - 9 in ten schools in a northern Swedish municipality participated in the study. The frequency of discrimination at school was measured by six items: sex; culture or ethnicity; disability; religion beliefs; sexual preferences; and any other form of discrimination. The Social and Civic Objectives Scale (SCOS) was used for an estimation of the level of participation. The pupils’ health was measured by the PsychoSomatic Problem (PSP) scale. Multivariate logistic regression models were used for estimation of increased risk of PSP. The formula Z = d/s(d) was used to test mediation. Results: Two thirds of the boys and three fourths of the girls reported occurrences of discrimination at schools (p = 0.001). Discrimination was a mediating factor between participation and PSP among boys and girls as the mediating formula Z = d/s (d) was > ± 2 SD, -2.59 for boys and -39.27 for girls. Independent of each other, low participation and discrimination were associated with increased risk of PSP. Conclusion: Discrimination was a mediating factor between participation and PSP. The mediating effect was stronger in girls than in boys. There is a need for school health promotion programs focusing on participation in terms of democratic processes, communication and cooperation in the classroom.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Carlerby, H. , Viitasara, E. , Knutsson, A. and Gadin, K. (2012) How discrimination and participation are associated with psychosomatic problems among boys and girls in northern Sweden. Health, 4, 866-872. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.410132.


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