Accepted paper:

Social relationships' influence on children's health: an anthropological study of social relationships and future risk of developing multimorbidity among children from poor socioeconomic areas


Elisabeth Søndergaard (Institute of Public Health)
Susanne Reventlow (Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen)
Pia Christensen (University of Leeds)

Paper short abstract:

New studies in multimorbidity show an association between adult patients with multimorbidity and the experience of having had a difficult childhood. This project suggests investigating the link between children’s social relationships–with peers and important adults–and their present health profile.

Paper long abstract:

There is a significant social gradient in health, which is reflected in the pattern of multimorbidity. At the same time, research shows that nourishing social relationships can make up for existing risk factors for developing disease. Recent years' research has increased our understanding of the link between children's circumstances during childhood and the individual's physical, mental and cognitive potential throughout life. Studies have shown a connection between parents' socio-economic situation and health and the child's current and future health profile. Self-rated physical and mental health among children and young people are negatively linked with parents' social position, meaning that children of less educated mothers and children of parents on benefits report having it worst. At the same time, children who frequently experience abdominal pain, more often than other children, have mothers with a history of pain problems, serious physical illness or anxiety and/or depression. Furthermore, children with frequent headaches more often feel lonely, and children, who experience traumatic events in childhood, including severe somatic disease among close family members and/or dysfunctional family relationships and/or parental work loss, are at greater risk of developing somatic diseases. If well-functioning social relationships in childhood promote psychological well-being and provide better health throughout the individual's life, then social relationships in childhood might have a preventive effect on health over time and thereby decrease the risk of developing multimorbidity later in life. The purpose of this planned project is to explore how social relationships for children in families with low socioeconomic status and parents with multimorbidity affect their physical and mental health.

panel P098
Living with chronic illness: challenges and perspectives across borders