Self-Reported Physical and Mental Health Status and Quality Of Life in Adolescents: A Latent Variable Mediation Model

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Sawatzky, R., Ratner, P.A., Johnson, J.L., Kopec, J.A., Zumbo, B.D. Self-reported physical and mental health status and quality of life in adolescents: a latent variable mediation model. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 2010. 8:17


Date created: 
DOI: 10.1186/1477-7525-8-17
Mental health status
Life domain
British Columbia
Physical health status
Important life domain


We examined adolescents' differentiation of their self-reported physical and mental health status, the relative importance of these variables and five important life domains (satisfaction with family, friends, living environment, school and self) with respect to adolescents' global quality of life (QOL), and the extent to which the five life domains mediate the relationships between self-reported physical and mental health status and global QOL.


The data were obtained via a cross-sectional health survey of 8,225 adolescents in 49 schools in British Columbia, Canada. Structural equation modeling was applied to test the implied latent variable mediation model. The Pratt index (d) was used to evaluate variable importance.


Relative to one another, self-reported mental health status was found to be more strongly associated with depressive symptoms, and self-reported physical health status more strongly associated with physical activity. Self-reported physical and mental health status and the five life domains explained 76% of the variance in global QOL. Relatively poorer mental health and physical health were significantly associated with lower satisfaction in each of the life domains. Global QOL was predominantly explained by three of the variables: mental health status (d = 30%), satisfaction with self (d = 42%), and satisfaction with family (d = 20%). Satisfaction with self and family were the predominant mediators of mental health and global QOL (45% total mediation), and of physical health and global QOL (68% total mediation).


This study provides support for the validity and relevance of differentiating self-reported physical and mental health status in adolescent health surveys. Self-reported mental health status and, to a lesser extent, self-reported physical health status were associated with significant differences in the adolescents' satisfaction with their family, friends, living environment, school experiences, self, and their global QOL. Questions about adolescents' self-reported physical and mental health status and their experiences with these life domains require more research attention so as to target appropriate supportive services, particularly for adolescents with mental or physical health challenges.

Document type: 
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
Canadian Nurses Foundation