BACKGROUND: Previous research has linked adolescents' participation in organised leisure-time activities (OLTAs) to better health and well-being. It remains unclear whether these associations can be observed consistently across social and socioeconomic strata and countries.
METHODS: The present study used nine nationally representative samples of adolescents aged 11, 13 and 15 years (total n=55 429) from the 2017/2018 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey from Europe and Canada. Regression models with mixed effects to account for nested nature of data were applied to estimate: (1) the associations of social and socioeconomic factors with OLTA participation; (2) strengths of the associations between breadth and pattern of OLTA participation with health and well-being indicators, after adjustment for the social and socioeconomic factors.
RESULTS: Rates of OLTA participation varied by age, sex and country of adolescents. Participants from lower socioeconomic classes and non-nuclear families were less likely to participate in OLTAs across each of the nine countries. Moreover, breadth of OLTA participation was associated with higher well-being independent of socioeconomic status or family structure. All of the participation patterns were associated with higher life satisfaction, but sports (either alone or in combination with a non-sport OLTA) were also associated with fewer psychological complaints and excellent self-rated health.
CONCLUSION: Adolescents' engagement in OLTAs was associated with adolescents' subjective well-being regardless of country, age, sex and variance in social and socioeconomic factors. Policies aimed at increasing adolescents' subjective well-being and OLTA participation should focus on adolescents from low socioeconomic classes and non-nuclear families.
Field of Science*
- 3.3 Health sciences
- 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database