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Association between sense of coherence in adolescence and social benefits later in life: a 12-year follow-up study
  1. Else Toft Würtz1,3,
  2. Kirsten Fonager1,2,
  3. Jens Tølbøll Mortensen1
  1. 1Department of Social Medicine, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine, Department of Health Science and Technology, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
  3. 3Department of Occupational Medicine, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Kirsten Fonager, Department of Social Medicine, Aalborg University Hospital, Havrevangen 1, 2, Post box 561, Aalborg DK-9100, Denmark; k.fonager{at}


Objectives Local government concerns over expenditure on social and healthcare are growing. The aim of the present study was to explore the association between a weak ‘sense of coherence’ (SOC) in teens and their subsequent risk of receiving social and healthcare benefits during young adulthood, and to monitor how SOC developed during this period.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting North Denmark Region.

Participants 773 Pupils from seventh and eighth forms who answered a questionnaire in 1998.

Outcome measures Different social benefits (from the Danish DREAM database embracing disbursed public social benefits). Change in SOC score from 1998 to 2010.

Results 722 had answered seven items of the original SOC-13 questionnaire (denoted by SOC-7). Girls with a weak SOC-7 (the lowest 1st quartile) in 1998 had a significantly increased risk of receiving unemployment benefits (RR 1.3 (1.1 to 1.6)), social assistance (RR 1.8 (1.3 to 2.5)) and sickness benefits (RR 1.5 (1.2 to 2.0)) compared with girls with a strong SOC-7. For boys, only minor protective and non-significant differences were found. The SOC answers from 1998 and 2010 were compared (n=394). SOC increased significantly and mostly in girls.

Conclusions SOC-7 may serve as a predictor for social life event outcomes and hence facilitate an early identification and a selective approach to support teenage girls with a weak SOC. From adolescence to young adulthood, SOC-7 was of a relatively unstable nature.


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