From February 2017, information about the work of the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow is available and updated on the University of Glasgow website.

Youth and Health

The Youth and Health programme aimed to increase our understanding of young people's current and future health, and reduce later health inequalities.  In order to do this, it used three studies of young people in the West of Scotland, spanning two decades, together with related in-depth research. 

This programme formally ceased at the end of March 2010 with the retirement of Patrick West, Programme Leader, but team members have continued to analyse data and prepare publications based on the studies of young people.

Youth and Health Team
Patrick West, Helen Sweeting and Robert Young (l-r)

The programme's objectives were to describe and explain:

  • health (particularly mental health) and health risk behaviours (particularly smoking) from childhood through adolescence to adulthood;
  • the relationship of health and health behaviours with social class over this period, with particular reference to health in adolescence and health inequalities in adulthood;
  • the gender patterning of health and health behaviours from childhood to adulthood, with particular reference to changes in adolescence;
  • the role of the family in relation to health, lifestyles and life chances, and the extent to which family influences cut across class;
  • the influence of the school, peer group and youth culture on health, health behaviours and lifestyles, and the extent to which these are separate from class, gender and the family;
  • variation in levels of stress between social classes, schools and peer group positions;
  • changes in young people's health and health behaviours, and their social patterning, over time.

The programme's principal sources of data were:

  • the youngest cohort of the Twenty-07 Study, first surveyed at age 15 in 1987 (n=1,009) and followed up at ages 16, 18, 21, 23 and 30.
  • the West of Scotland 11 to 16/16+ Study, first surveyed at age 11 in 1994 (n=2,586) in the last year of primary school, and followed up in secondary school to age 15 (1999), and then again (as the 16+ Study) at age 18. At 15 and 18, psychiatric data were collected via a computerised (Voice) version of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children.
  • the Peers and Levels of Stress (PaLS) study, surveyed at age 15 in 2006 (n=3,204). This study includes measures of peer group, stress, and mental health and disorder.

 

Feedback of results to schools, parents and respondents was a continuous feature of this programme, reflecting a policy of disseminating to a wide range of audiences.

Publications

2013

Smith E, Sweeting H, Wright C. 'Do I care?' young adults' recalled experiences of early adolescent overweight and obesity: a qualitative study. International Journal of Obesity 2013;37:303-8

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Young R, Macdonald L, Ellaway A. Associations between proximity and density of local alcohol outlets and alcohol use among Scottish adolescents. Health & Place 2013;19:124-130

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2012

Jackson CA, Sweeting H, Haw S. Clustering of substance use and sexual risk behaviour in adolescence: analysis of two cohort studies. BMJ Open 2012;2:e000661

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Karvonen S, Young R, West P, Rahkonen O. Value orientations among late modern youth: a cross-cultural study. Journal of Youth Studies 2012;15:33-52

Markham W, Young R, Sweeting H, West P, Aveyard P. Does school ethos explain the relationship between value-added education and teenage substance use? A cohort study. Social Science & Medicine 2012;75:69-76

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Young R, Sweeting H, West P. Associations between DSM-IV diagnosis, psychiatric symptoms and morning cortisol levels in a community sample of adolescents. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2012;47:723-733

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Young R. Can Neds (or Chavs) be non-delinquent, educated or even middle class? Contrasting empirical findings with cultural stereotypes. Sociology 2012;46:1140-1160

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2011

Hunt K, Sweeting H, Sargent J, Lewars H, Young R, West P. Is there an association between seeing incidents of alcohol or drug use in films and young Scottish adults' own alcohol or drug use? A cross sectional study. BMC Public Health 2011;11:259

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Kasengele K M. Do social comparisons matter in relation to health and wellbeing? [PhD], MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow 2011.

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Sweeting H, Jackson C, Haw S. Changes in the socio-demographic patterning of late adolescent health risk behaviours during the 1990s: analysis of two West of Scotland cohort studies. BMC Public Health 2011;11:829

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Sweeting H, West P, Young R, Kelly S. Dimensions of adolescent subjective social status within the school community: description and correlates. Journal of Adolescence 2011;34:493-504

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Young R, Lennie S, Minnis H. Children’s perceptions of parental emotional neglect and psychopathology . Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2011;52:889-97

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Young R, Sweeting H, Ellaway A. Do schools differ in suicide risk? The influence of school and neighbourhood on attempted suicide, suicidal ideation and self-harm among secondary school pupils. BMC Public Health 2011;11:874

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2010

MacLean A, Sweeting H, Hunt K. ‘Rules’ for boys, ‘guidelines’ for girls: gender differences in symptom reporting during childhood and adolescence. Social Science & Medicine 2010;70:597-604

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Parkes A, Wight D, Henderson M, West P. Does early sexual debut reduce teenagers' participation in tertiary education? Evidence from the SHARE longitudinal study. Journal of Adolescence 2010;33:741-54

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Sweeting H, West P, Young R, Der G. Can we explain increases in young people's psychological distress over time?. Social Science & Medicine 2010;71:1819-30

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West P, Sweeting H, Young R, Kelly S. The relative importance of family socioeconomic status and school-based peer hierarchies for morning cortisol in youth: an exploratory study. Social Science & Medicine 2010;70:1246-53

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West P, Sweeting H, Young R. Transition matters: pupils' experiences of the primary-secondary school transition in the West of Scotland and consequences for well-being and attainment. Research Papers in Education 2010;25:21-50

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Young R, West P. Do good values lead to good health-behaviours?: longitudinal associations between young people's values and later substance-use. BMC Public Health 2010;10:165

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Young R. Trauma, attempted suicide and morning cortisol in a community sample of adolescents. Journal of Traumatic Stress 2010;23:288–291

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2009

Hunt K, Sweeting H, Sargent J, Lewars H, Dal Cin S, Worth K. An examination of the association between seeing smoking in films and tobacco use in young adults in the West of Scotland: cross-sectional study. Health Education Research 2009;24:22-31

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Lonie D. Musical identities and health over the youth-adult transition [PhD], MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow 2009.

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Sweeting H, West P. Drug use over the youth-adult transition in a West of Scotland cohort: prevalence, pathways and socio-demographic correlates. Addiction Research & Theory 2009;16:474-94

Sweeting H, Young R, West P. GHQ increases among Scottish 15 year olds 1987-2006. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 2009;44:579-86

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West P. Health in youth: changing times and changing influences. In: Furlong A , editor Handbook of youth and young adulthood. London: Routledge, 2009:331-343.

West P. Health related behaviours in context. In: Furlong A, editor Handbook of youth and young adulthood. London: Routledge, 2009:361-371.

West P. The changing evidence-base: further challenges for smoking prevention [commentary]. Addiction 2009;104:651-2

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Williamson LM, Buston K, Sweeting H. Young women’s continued use of oral contraceptives over other hormonal methods: findings from a qualitative study. Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care 2009;35:167-172

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Williamson LM, Buston K, Sweeting H. Young women’s perceptions of pregnancy risk and use of emergency contraception: findings from a qualitative study – Authors’ Reply. Contraception 2009;80:591-2

Williamson LM, Buston K, Sweeting H. Young women’s perceptions of pregnancy risk and use of emergency contraception: findings from a qualitative study. Contraception 2009;79:310-5

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2008

Henderson M, Butcher I, Wight D, Williamson LM, Raab G. What explains between-school differences in rates of sexual experience?. BMC Public Health 2008;8:53

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Kelly S, Young R, Sweeting H, Fischer J, West P. Levels and confounders of morning cortisol collected from adolescents in a naturalistic (school) setting. Psychoneuroendocrinology 2008;33:1257-68

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Sweeting H, West P, Young R. Obesity among Scottish 15 year olds 1987-2006: prevalence and associations with socio-economic status, well-being and worries about weight. BMC Public Health 2008;8:404

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Sweeting H. Gendered dimensions of obesity in childhood and adolescence. Nutrition Journal 2008;7:1

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Young R, Sweeting H, West P. A longitudinal study of alcohol use and antisocial behaviour in young people. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2008;43:204-14

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2007

Glendinning A, West P. Young people's mental health in context: comparing life in the city and small communities in Siberia. Social Science & Medicine 2007;65:1180-1191

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Sweeting H, West P, Der G. Explanations for female excess morbidity in adolescence: evidence from a school-based cohort in the West of Scotland . BMC Public Health 2007;7:298.

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Sweeting H. Measurement and definitions of obesity in childhood and adolescence: a field guide for the uninitiated. Nutrition Journal 2007;6:32.

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West P, Sweeting H, Young R. Smoking in Scottish youths: personal income, parental social class and the cost of smoking. Tobacco Control 2007;16:329-335

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Williamson LM. Contraceptive careers: young women's choices, influences and risks [PhD], MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit 2007.

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Young R, van Beinum M, Sweeting H, West P. Young people who self-harm. British Journal of Psychiatry 2007;191:44-49

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2006

Barbour R, Bryce G, Connelly G, Furnivall J, Lewins A, Lockhart E, Phin L, Stallard A, van Beinum M, Wilson P. Only connect: addressing the emotional needs of Scotland's children and young people: a report on the SNAP Child and Adolescent Mental Health phase two survey. Edinburgh, 2006

Harvey D. Behaving badly: psychiatric and sociological perspectives on young people with 'conduct disorder' [PhD], MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit 2006.

open access  

Henderson M. School effects on adolescent pupils' health behaviours and school processes associated with these effects [PhD], MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit 2006.

Pearson M, Sweeting H, West P, Young R, Gordon J, Turner J. Adolescent substance use in different social and peer contexts: a social network analysis. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy 2006;13:519-536

Steglich C, Snijders TAB, West P. Applying SIENA: an illustrative analysis of the co-evolution of adolescents' friendship networks, taste in music, and alcohol consumption. Methodology: Journal of Research Methods for the Behavioral and Social Sciences 2006;2:48-56

Sweeting H, Young R, West P, Der G. Peer victimization and depression in early-mid adolescence: A longitudinal study. British Journal of Educational Psychology 2006;76:577-594

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Sweeting H. Alcohol units at pocket money prices [e-letter]. BMJ 2006;333:825-b

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Turner K, West P, Young R, Gordon J, Sweeting H. Could the peer group explain school differences in pupil smoking rates?. Social Science & Medicine 2006;62:2513-2525

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West P, Sweeting H, Young R, Robins M. A material paradox: socioeconomic status, young people's disposable income and consumer culture. Journal of Youth Studies 2006;9:437-462

West P. School effects research provides new and stronger evidence in support of the health promoting school [editorial]. Health Education 2006;106:421-424

Young R, Sweeting H, West P. Prevalence of deliberate self harm and attempted suicide within contemporary Goth youth subculture: longitudinal cohort study. BMJ 2006;332:1058-1061

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2005

Henderson M, West P, Raab G.. School effects on health behaviours. Education and Health 2005;23:57-60

Ross N, Hill M, Sweeting H, Cunningham-Burley S, Morton S. Relationships between grandparents and teenage grandchildren. CRFR Briefing 23 , 2005

Sweeting H, Seaman P. Family within and beyond the household boundary: children's constructions of who they live with. In: McKie L, Cunningham-Burley S, editors Families in society: boundaries and relationships. Bristol: Policy Press, 2005:95-110.

Sweeting H, West P. Dietary habits and children's family lives. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics 2005;18:93-7

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Sweeting H, Wright C, Minnis H. Psychosocial correlates of obesity, 'slimming down' and 'becoming obese' in adolescence. Journal of Adolescent Health 2005;37:409.e9 - 409.e17

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2004

Abbotts J E, Sweeting H, Williams R, West P. Is going to church good or bad for you? Denomination, attendance, and mental health of children in West Scotland. Social Science & Medicine 2004;58:645-656

Gordon J, Turner K. The empowerment principle: casualties of two schools' failure to grasp the nettle. Health Education 2004;104:226-240

Seaman P, Sweeting H. Assisting young people's access to social capital in contemporary families: a qualitative study. Journal of Youth Studies 2004;7:173-90

Turner K, Gordon J, Young R. Cigarette access and pupil smoking rates: a circular relationship. Health Promotion International 2004;19:428-436

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Turner K, Gordon J. A fresh perspective on a rank issue: pupils' accounts of staff enforcement of smoking restrictions. Health Education Research 2004;19:148-158

Turner K, Gordon J. Butt in, butt out: pupils' views on the extent to which staff could and should enforce smoking restrictions. Health Education Research 2004;19:40-50

West P, Sweeting H, Leyland AH. School effects on pupils' health behaviours: evidence in support of the health promoting school. Research Papers in Education 2004;19:261-291

West P, Sweeting H. Evidence on equalisation in health in youth from the West of Scotland. Social Science & Medicine 2004;59:13-27

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West P. National Health Demonstration Projects: evaluation task group review October-December 2003: final report. Edinburgh, 2004

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Young R, Sweeting H. Adolescent bullying, relationships, psychological well-being, and gender-atypical behavior: a gender diagnosticity approach. Sex Roles 2004;50:525-537

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2003

Gordon J, Turner K. Ifs, maybes and butts: factors influencing staff enforcement of smoking restrictions. Health Education Research 2003;18:329-340

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Gordon J, Turner K. School differences in pupil smoking: a consequence of a trade-off between health and education agendas?. Health Education Research 2003;18:580-591

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Pearson M, West P. Drifting smoke rings: social network analysis and Markov processes in a longitudinal study of friendship groups and risk taking. Connections: bulletin of the International Network for Social Network Analysis 2003;25:59-76

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Seaman P. Connecting experiences: people's family life as a unifying entity [PhD], MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit 2003.

Sweeting H, West P. Sex differences in health at ages 11, 13 and 15. Social Science & Medicine 2003;56:31-39

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Sweeting H, West P. Young people's leisure and risk-taking behaviours: changes in gender patterning in the West of Scotland during the 1990s. Journal of Youth Studies 2003;6:391-412

Sweeting H. Girls...can be boys. Counselling in Education 2003:9-15

van Beinum M. Teenage user perspectives of adolescent psychiatry outpatient services [PhD], Medical Faculty 2003.

West P, Sweeting H, Der G, Barton J, Lucas C. Voice-DISC identified DSM-IV disorders among 15 year olds in the West of Scotland. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 2003;42:941-949

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West P, Sweeting H. Fifteen, female and stressed: changing patterns of psychological distress over time. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2003;44:399-411

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2002

Sweeting H, West P. Gender differences in weight-related concerns in early to mid adolescence. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health 2002;56:700-701

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2001

Abbotts J, Sweeting H, Williams R, West P. Poor but healthy? The youngest generation of Irish Catholics in West Scotland. Health Bulletin 2001;59:373-379

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Gordon J, Turner K. School staff as exemplars: where is the potential?. Health Education 2001;101:283-291

Karvonen S, West P, Sweeting H, Rahkonen O, Young R. Lifestyle, social class and health related behaviours: a cross cultural comparison of 15 year olds in Glasgow and Helsinki. Journal of Youth Studies 2001;4:393-413

Sweeting H, West P. Being different: correlates of the experience of teasing and bullying at age 11. Research Papers in Education 2001;16:225-46

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Sweeting H, West P. Social class and smoking at age 15: the effect of different definitions of smoking. Addiction 2001;96:1357-9

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Sweeting H. Our family, whose perspective?. Journal of Adolescence 2001;24:229-50

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West P, Sweeting H, Speed E. We really do know what you do: a comparison of reports from 11 year olds and their parents in respect of parental economic status and occupation. Sociology 2001;35:539-559

2000

Ely M, West P, Sweeting H, Richards M. Teenage family life, life chances, lifestyles, and health: a comparison of two contemporary cohorts. International Journal of Law, Policy & the Family 2000;14:1-30

Pearson M, Michell L. Smoke rings: social network analysis of friendship groups, smoking and drug-taking. Drugs: Education, Prevention, and Policy 2000;7:21-37

West P, Sweeting H, Der G. The Voice DISC: a method for ascertaining psychiatric diagnoses in young people in the community. MRC Social and Public Health Science Unit Occasional Paper no. 4, Glasgow, 2000

1999

West P, Sweeting H, Ecob R. Family and friends' influences on the uptake of regular smoking from mid-adolescence to early adulthood. Addiction 1999;94:1397-1412

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1998

Sweeting H, West P, Richards M. Teenage family life, lifestyles, and life chances: associations with family structure, conflict with parents and joint family activity. International Journal of Law, Policy & the Family 1998;12:15-46

Sweeting H, West P. Health at age 11: reports from schoolchildren and their parents. Archives of Disease in Childhood 1998;78:427-434

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1997

West P. Health inequalities in the early years: is there equalisation in youth?. Social Science & Medicine 1997;44:833-58

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1996

Michell L, West P. Peer pressure to smoke: the meaning depends on the method. Health Education Research: Theory and Practice 1996;11:39-49

West P, Sweeting H. Health inequalities: what's going on in youth?. Health Education 1996;5:14-20

West P, Sweeting H. Nae job, nae future: young people and health in a context of unemployment. Health & Social Care in the Community 1996;4:50-62

1995

Sweeting H, West P. Family life and health in adolescence: a role for culture in the health inequalities debate?. Social Science & Medicine 1995;40:163-175

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Sweeting H. Reversals of fortune? Sex differences in health in childhood and adolescence. Social Science & Medicine 1995;40:77-90

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1994

Anderson AS, Macintyre S, West P. Dietary patterns among adolescents in the West of Scotland. British Journal of Nutrition 1994;71:111-22

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Ford G, Ecob R, Hunt K, Macintyre S, West P. Patterns of class inequality in health through the lifespan: class gradients at 15, 35 and 55 years in the West of Scotland. Social Science & Medicine 1994;39:1037-1050

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Sweeting H, Anderson AS, West P. Socio-demographic correlates of dietary habits in mid to late adolescence. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 1994;48:736-748

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1993

Anderson AS, Macintyre S, West . Adolescent meal patterns: grazing habits in the West of Scotland. Health Bulletin 1993;51:158-65

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1991

Green G, Macintyre S, West P, Ecob R. Like parent like child? Associations between drinking and smoking behaviour of parents and their children. British Journal of Addiction 1991;86:745-58

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Macintyre S, West P. Lack of class variation in health in adolescence: an artefact of an occupational measure of social class. Social Science & Medicine 1991;32:395-402

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West P. Rethinking the health selection explanation for health inequalities. Social Science & Medicine 1991;32:373-384

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1990

West P, Macintyre S, Annandale E, Hunt K. Social class and health in youth: findings from the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study. Social Science & Medicine 1990;30:665-673

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1988

West P. Inequalities? Social class differentials in health in British youth. Social Science & Medicine 1988;27:291-296

Programme Leader

Programme Staff