The impact of childhood conditions and concurrent morbidities on child health and well-being


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Background: Understanding the impact of illnesses and morbidities experienced by children and adolescents is essential to clinical and population health programme decision making and intervention research. This study sought to: (1) examine the population prevalence of physical and mental health conditions for children and quantify their impact on multiple dimensions of children's health and well‐being; and (2) examine the cumulative effect of concurrent conditions.
Methods: We conducted a cross‐sectional school‐based epidemiological study of 5414 children and adolescents aged 5–18 years, and examined parental reports of child health and well‐being using the parent‐report Child Health Questionnaire (CHQ) PF50 13 scales are scored on a 0–100 pt scale with clinically meaningful differences of five points and the presence of childhood conditions (illnesses and health problems).
Results: Asthma, dental, vision and allergies are the most commonly identified health problems for children and adolescents, followed by attention‐ and behaviour‐related problems (asthma 17.9–23.2%, dental 11.9–22.7%, vision 7.2–14.7%, chronic allergies 8.8–13.9%, attention problems 5.1–13.8% and behaviour problems 5.7–12.0%). As the number of concurrent health problems increase, overall health and well‐being decreases substantively with mean differences in CHQ scale scores of 14 points (−7.69 to −21.51) for physical health conditions, and 28 points (−5.15 to −33.81) for mental health conditions.
Conclusions: Children's health and well‐being decreases linearly with increasing presence and frequency of health problems. Having three or more conditions concurrently significantly burdens children's health and well‐being, particularly for family‐related CHQ domains, with a greater burden experienced for mental health conditions than physical health conditions. Copyright © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)418-429
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2008


Waters, E., Davis, E., Nicolas, C., Wake, M., & Lo, S. K. (2008). The impact of childhood conditions and concurrent morbidities on child health and well-being. Child: care, health and development, 34(4), 418-429. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2008.00825.x


  • Children and adolescents
  • Health conditions
  • Multiple morbidities
  • Quality of life


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