Does the density of the health workforce predict adolescent health? A cross-sectional, multilevel study of 38 countries.

TitleDoes the density of the health workforce predict adolescent health? A cross-sectional, multilevel study of 38 countries.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsRiehm KE, Latimer E, Quesnel-Vallée A, Stevens GWJM, Gariépy G, Elgar FJ
JournalJ Public Health (Oxf)
Date Published2018 Jun 11
ISSN1741-3850
Abstract

Background: Scant evidence exists on the relation between the availability of health professionals and adolescent health, and whether the size of the health workforce equally benefits adolescents across socioeconomic strata.Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of adolescent health in 38 countries. Data from 218 790 adolescents were drawn from the 2013/2014 Health Behavior in School-aged Children survey. We used multilevel regression analyses to examine the association between the density of the health workforce and psychosomatic and mental health symptoms with differences in country wealth and income inequality controlled.Results: A higher density of psychologists was associated with better self-reported mental health in adolescents (P = 0.047); however, this finding was not robust to sensitivity analyses. The densities of physicians and psychiatrists were not significantly associated with better adolescent psychosomatic or mental health. Cross-level interactions between the health workforce and socioeconomic status did not relate to health, indicating that larger health workforces did not reduce socioeconomic differences in adolescent health.Conclusions: This study found that adolescents in countries with a higher density of health providers do not report better psychosomatic or mental health. Other social or structural factors may play larger roles in adolescent health.

DOI10.1093/pubmed/fdy096
Alternate JournalJ Public Health (Oxf)
PubMed ID29893874