Adolescent socioeconomic and school-based social status, smoking, and drinking


Sweeting H & Hunt K (2015) Adolescent socioeconomic and school-based social status, smoking, and drinking. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57 (1), pp. 37-45.

Purpose: Relationships between subjective social status (SSS) and health-risk behaviors have received less attention than those between SSS and health. Inconsistent associations between school-based SSS and smoking or drinking might be because it is a single measure reflecting several status dimensions. We investigated how adolescent smoking and drinking are associated with "objective" socioeconomic status (SES), subjective SES, and three dimensions of school-based SSS. Methods: Scottish 13-15 years-olds (N = 2,503) completed questionnaires in school-based surveys, providing information on: "objective" SES (residential deprivation, family affluence); subjective SES (MacArthur Scale youth version); and three school-based SSS dimensions ("SSS-peer", "SSS-scholastic" and "SSS-sports"). We examined associations between each status measure and smoking (ever and weekly) and drinking (ever and usually five or more drinks) and investigated variations according to gender and age. Results: Smoking and heavier drinking were positively associated with residential deprivation; associations with family affluence and subjective SES were weak or nonexistent. Both substances were related to each school-based SSS measure, and these associations were equally strong or stronger than those with deprivation. Although SSS-peer was positively associated with both smoking and (especially heavier) drinking, SSS-scholastic and SSS-sports were negatively associated with both substances. There were no gender differences in the associations and few according to age. Conclusions: Subjective school-based status has stronger associations with adolescent smoking and drinking than "objective" or subjective SES. However, different dimensions of school-based status relate to adolescent smoking and drinking in opposing directions, meaning one measure based on several dimensions might show inconsistent relationships with adolescent substance use.

Adolescent; Subjective social status; Socioeconomic status; School-based social status; Peer status; Smoking; Drinking; Psychological well-being; United Kingdom

Journal of Adolescent Health: Volume 57, Issue 1

Publication date31/07/2015
Publication date online18/06/2015
Date accepted by journal11/03/2015