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Into the realm of social capital for adolescents : A latent profile analysis

Ahlborg, Mikael, Svedberg, Petra, Nyholm, Maria, Morgan, Antony, Nygren, Jens M.

Article in journal (Refereegranskat)



Recent reports of increasing prevalence of frequent health complaints and mental health problems among adolescents call for directing more attention on determinants of adolescent health. The relationship between health and social capital has gained increased attention since the early 2000’s and research at review level confirms the importance of social capital for health outcomes, despite methodological heterogeneity. The aim of this study was to identify distinct profiles of family, school and peer social capital in a nationally representative sample of adolescents and to explore health outcomes in those profiles.


Cross-sectional data from the Swedish Health Behaviour of School-aged Children 2013/14 was used for this study. The analytical sample consisted of 7,804 adolescents aged 11-, 13- and 15-years. Items representing sense of belonging and emotional support were assessed in three contexts; family, school and among peers. Latent profile analyses (LPA) were run to determine social capital profiles. Health outcomes included frequent health complaints and life satisfaction, while socioeconomic status and genders were included as predictors.


The results show that five distinct profiles best represent the data for 11- and 15-year olds, while a four-profile model was optimal for 13-year olds. Some profiles were recurrent between age groups but unique profiles were also found. Health outcomes were significantly different between profiles depending on levels of social capital in the different contexts.


This study provides novel insight into how social capital co-occurs among adolescents within the contexts of family, school and peers and how this translates into differences in health outcomes. The national representativeness of the sample increases the implications of the results and contributes to meaningful insights that help explain the interactions of social capital in multiple contexts, complementing what is previously known about the relationship with adolescent health. © 2019 Ahlborg et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Cite: Ahlborg, Mikael, Svedberg, Petra, Nyholm, Maria, Morgan, Antony & Nygren, Jens M., Into the realm of social capital for adolescents A latent profile analysis, PLoS ONE., 14:2, 2019https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212564