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Associations between parents’ subjective time pressure and mental health problems among children in the Nordic countries: a population based study

Journal article
Authors Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdottir
Ylva Bjereld
Gunnel Hensing
Max Petzold
Lene Povlsen
Published in BMC Public Health
Volume 15
Issue 353
ISSN 1471-2458
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Centre for Applied Biostatistics
Department of Social Work
Language en
Keywords Time pressure; Parents; Child mental health; Strength and difficulties questionnaire; Nordic countries
Subject categories Public health science


Background The home, the family and the parents represent a context of everyday life that is important for child health and development, with parent-child relationships highlighted as crucial for children’s mental health. Time pressure is an emerging feature of modern societies and previous studies indicates that parents with children living at home experience time pressure to a greater extent than people with no children living at home. Previous studies of children’s mental health in relation to parents’ time pressure are lacking. Hence, the purpose of this study was to examine the association between parents’ subjective time pressure and mental health problems among children in the Nordic countries as well as potential disparities between boys and girls in different age groups. Methods 4592 children, aged 4-16 from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, participating in the 2011 version of the NordChild study, were included. The Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire was used to measure children’s mental health and associations to parents’ time pressure were assessed by multiple logistic regression analysis. Results Among children of parents experiencing time pressure, 18.6% had mental health problems compared to 10.1% among children of parents experiencing time pressure not or sometimes. The odds of mental health problems were higher among both boys (OR 1.80 95% CI 1.32-2.46) and girls (OR 1.95 95% CI 1.42-2.66) if their parents experienced time pressure when adjusted for financial stress. The highest prevalence of mental health problems in the case of parental time pressure was found among girls 13-16 years old (23.6%) and the lowest prevalence was found among boys 13-16 years old (10.7%). Conclusions In this study an association between parents’ subjective time pressure and increased mental health problems among children was found. Given that time pressure is a growing feature of modern societies, the results might contribute to an explanation as to mental health problems are common among children in the Nordic countries in spite of otherwise favourable conditions. Additional research on the linkage between parents’ experienced time pressure and children’s and adolescents’ mental health problems is needed to confirm the novel findings of this study.

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