Relation between economic disadvantage and psychosocial morbidity in children.
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OBJECTIVE: To examine the relation between low income and child psychosocial morbidity cross-sectionally and longitudinally. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey with follow-up. SETTING: Ontario. PARTICIPANTS: Children aged 4 to 16 years from families selected by means of stratified, clustered and random sampling of 1981 Canada Census data. Results were based on the responses of 2503 children interviewed in 1983 and 1076 re-interviewed in 1987. OUTCOME MEASURES: Prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders, poor school performance and social impairment. RESULTS: There was a significant relation between low income and psychosocial morbidity, with a threshold at an income level of less than $10,000. Poor children 4 to 11 years of age were at greater risk of morbidity than poor children 12 to 16, but there were no significant age differences. Logistic regression revealed that low income and noneconomic factors (low maternal education and family dysfunction) shared significant independent influences on the prevalence of psychosocial morbidity. CONCLUSIONS: Low income is strongly associated with psychosocial morbidity in children. Both economic and noneconomic factors showed independent influences on morbidity. These findings have important clinical, scientific and policy implications.
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