Growing up in Scotland: parenting and children's health

This publication reports which aspects of day-to-day parenting are important to children’s health and whether variations in parenting account for social inequalities in child health outcomes.


1. A supplementary update to Health For All Children has also been published. See

2. GUS has a two-stage sample design where individuals are selected from within a random selection of geographic areas known as clusters. The analysis adjusts for this design. For further details on the sample design and why the sample errors are adjusted please consult the GUS Data User Guide available at

3. The SDQ comprises a further fifth, positive, 'pro-social' domain. Items contributing to the pro-social domain are not included in the total difficulties score and are therefore not considered in this report.

4. Measured using according to whether the mother's mean score SF-12 (Ware et al. 1996) Health Survey mental health items measured at sweeps 1, 3 and 5 was below 1 SD of mean sample population value, indicating maternal depression.

5. Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation

6. Detailed results available on request.

7. Reliability' is used here to denote the internal consistency of items making up a parenting measure. Consistency is estimated using Cronbach's alpha, which is based on the average correlation between items. The value of Cronbach's alpha depends in part on the number of items in the scale, with a greater number of items resulting in higher alphas. While there is no firm consensus, a commonly accepted 'cut-off' of an alpha of 0.7 or more for items to be included in a scale is often lowered to 0.6, particularly for exploratory studies.

8. A description of the analysis is included in the Technical Appendix.

9. Each of these factors was significantly associated with one or more of the health or health behaviour outcomes. Boys were more likely than girls to have a limiting long-term illness, high number of accidents or injuries, show emotional or behavioural difficulties and watch more television/play with electronic games. Dental health and both dietary outcomes varied with birth order and family size. Screen time and snacking behaviour varied according to child's age at the sweep 5 interview. Full results available on request.

10. We combined all children who had an adversity score of one or more into a single group and compared them with children who had an adversity score of zero. Again two stages of modelling were used to compare the odds of poor health in children with some degree of family adversity before and after controlling for parenting.

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