Objective health versus self-perceived health in Irish adolescents

  • S. O'Neill
  • S. Dockray


Background: There are many factors which contribute to self-perceived health; including depressive symptoms, sleep quality, smoking, and lack of physical exercise. These factors may influence self-perceptions of health in indirect ways, for example, many people may have lower vigour and more negative affect which influences self-reporting. There may also be direct effects, for example a correlation of these psychological and behavioural patterns and actual health, including obesity. Adolescent obesity is strongly predictive of lifelong obesity and increased risk of disease. Much research has focused on contributing factors to self-perceived health, but few have investigated the association between physiological indicators of health and self-perceived health. The aim of this research was to investigate these associations within an Irish adolescent population. Methods: Participants aged 12-25 completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Cohen-Hoberman Inventory of Physical Symptoms (CHIPS), and the Perceived Stress Scale. Measures were also collected of height, weight, blood pressure, waist-hip ration, and heart rate. Findings: A series of regression analyses indicate that depressive symptoms, perceived stress and poor sleep quality are associated with self-perceived health. There was a significant correlation between self-perceived health, weight status and physiological indicators of health. Discussion: Self-perceived health may be a good indicator of actual health status in adolescents. The results are interpreted within a developmental framework, highlighting the bidirectional effects of perceptions and actual health.
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