The impact of socioeconomic status, family and housing on adolescent health and wellbeing

  • Natalie Divin

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Deprived socioeconomic circumstances can increase the likelihood of poor physical and mental health, outcomes transmissible to young people due to their reliance on parental socioeconomic resources. Interventions commonly target adolescent groups to minimise health inequalities, yet this age group is described as typically invisible in health inequalities research. There has been a dearth of research examining health inequalities in Northern Irish adolescents, and a narrative review of 69 studies identified that no previous research examining factors such as household overcrowding has been conducted in Northern Ireland. This thesis addresses this research gap by examining the impact of household deprivation, family circumstances, and housing and neighbourhood factors on adolescent health and wellbeing. This was achieved by linking the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS) from the 2011 Census with multiple administrative datasets. A total of 52,501 NILS adolescents aged 11-18 – a representative 28% sample of the Northern Ireland population – comprised the core sample and were linked with their respective household members. Adolescent health and wellbeing outcomes were examined in four facets: physical, psychological, and cognitive and behavioural health conditions; disability; self-reported health; and prescription receipt for five medication types between 2011-2017. Household deprivation was frequently associated with health conditions, disability, and poor self-reported health. Family factors such as parental divorce and step-parent families related to poorer psychological health, and housing and neighbourhood factors such as overcrowding and neighbourhood deprivation were associated with poor self-reported health and disability respectively. While over one in six adolescents received an antidepressant prescription between 2011-2017, the research could come to no firm conclusions on the reasons behind this. The persisting relationship between household deprivation and poor adolescent wellbeing emphasises the need to minimise household poverty in Northern Ireland. Further research is required to explore the substantial increase in mental health medication receipt identified for Northern Irish adolescents.
Date of AwardOct 2020
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsDepartment for the Economy
SupervisorMichael Rosato (Supervisor) & Gerard Leavey (Supervisor)


  • Adolescent
  • Adolescence
  • Mental health
  • Health inequalities
  • Administrative data

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