To analyse the associations between bullying victimisation, disability, and self-reported psychosomatic complaints in adolescents, and to investigate the role of support from parents and teachers in such associations.
The study was based on Finnish and Swedish data from two waves (2013/2014 and 2017/2018) of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children survey ( n=16,057). Descriptive statistics were produced for four groups of adolescents: (a) bullied with disabilities; (b) not bullied with disabilities; (c) bullied without disabilities; and (d) not bullied without disabilities (reference group). Two multilevel multinomial logistic regression models were performed for the Finnish and Swedish samples separately. The first model analysed associations between psychosomatic complaints and bullying victimisation, controlling for a range of confounders. The second model analysed associations between psychosomatic complaints and social support from parents and teachers.
Across both countries, bullied adolescents with disabilities were more likely to self-report psychosomatic complaints than the reference group, even after adjusting for other potential confounders. Teacher support was identified as a potential protective factor as the odds ratio for psychosomatic complaints decreased when including teacher support as a factor in the model. The association with parent support showed mixed findings in Finland and Sweden.
Disability in combination with bullying victimisation generated the highest levels of self-reported psychosomatic complaints compared to adolescents that were not bullied nor had disabilities. High teacher support may be a protective factor against psychosomatic complaints for bullied and/or disabled adolescents.