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Racial/ethnic disparities in health-related quality of life and health status across pre-, early-, and mid-adolescence: a prospective cohort study.

  • Author(s): Wallander, Jan L
  • Fradkin, Chris
  • Elliott, Marc N
  • Cuccaro, Paula M
  • Tortolero Emery, Susan
  • Schuster, Mark A
  • et al.

PURPOSE:To examine (1) racial/ethnic disparities in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and overall health status among Black, Latino, and White youth during adolescence; (2) whether socioeconomic status (SES) and family contextual variables influence disparities; and (3) whether disparities are consistent from pre- to early- to mid-adolescence. METHODS:A population sample of 4823 Black (1755), Latino (1812), and White (1256) youth in three US metropolitan areas was prospectively assessed in a longitudinal survey conducted on three occasions, in 5th, 7th, and 10th grades, when youth reported their HRQOL using the PedsQL™ short-form Total, Physical and Psychosocial scales and youth and parents separately reported on youth's overall health status. Parents reported their education and household income to index SES, family structure, and use of English at home. RESULTS:Based on analysis conducted separately at each grade, marked racial/ethnic disparities were observed across all measures of HRQOL and health status, favoring White and disfavoring Black, and especially Latino youth. More strongly present in 5th and 7th grade, HRQOL disparities decreased by 10th grade. Most disparities between White and Black youth disappeared when adjusting for SES. However, even after adjusting for SES, family structure, and English use, overall health status disparities disfavoring Latino youth remained across all three assessments. CONCLUSIONS:Racial/ethnic disparities in adolescent HRQOL and health are substantial. These disparities appear consistent from pre- to early-adolescence but diminish for HRQOL by mid-adolescence. As disparities appear influenced by SES and other family contextual variables differently in different racial/ethnic groups, efforts to reduce health disparities in youth should address culturally specific conditions impinging on health.

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