Social Support and Child Health

The purpose of this study is to examine the cumulative effect of the social supports of Canadian adolescents from both ends of the affluence spectrum -- less-affluent and more affluent families -- and to determine the influence of these cumulative supports on a young person’s perceived overall health. Our opportunity is to analyze recent reports from the nationally representative Canadian Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study. We interpret our findings through the lens of two contemporary theories that apply to adolescent development. We aim for our findings to support the development of practical interventions surrounding the optimization of health in groups of young people.

Research Findings

It still takes a village: An epidemiological study of the role of social supports in understanding unexpected health states in young people


What was studied?

The goal of this research was see what role social support had in the perceived health of young Canadians of different affluence, specifically youth who deviate from the expected health-wealth relationship. Social support was evaluated at a variety of levels including home, neighbourhoods, school, and peer groups.


Who was studied?

This study used information on Canadian youth gathered through the 2009/2010 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children Survey. Specifically, this study looked at data from 26,078 youth ages 11-15 from all across Canada.


What was found?

Among youth of low reported affluence, perceived health improved with increased social support. For youth of high self-reported affluence, there was decrease in perceived health associated with decreased social support. The relationship between social support and perceived health was stronger among less affluent youth. Social supports such as parental trust and understanding, and participation in group activities are particularly important. This study shows the importance of cumulative levels of social support.


What should parents and caregivers take out of this?

Social support plays an important role in a young person’s perceived health. Parents should consider helping their child to create social supports from all different levels including home, neighbourhoods, school, and peer groups.

Holistic Health