Social capital has lately received much attention in health research. The present study investigated whether two measures of subjective social capital were related to psychosomatic symptoms, musculoskeletal pain, and depression in a large population of Swedish adolescents.
A total of 7757 13-18 year old students anonymously completed the Survey of Adolescent Life in Vestmanland 2008 which included questions on sociodemographic background, neighbourhood social capital, general social trust, and ill health.
Low neighbourhood social capital and low general social trust were associated with higher rates of psychosomatic symptoms, musculoskeletal pain, and depression. Individuals with low general social trust had more than three times increased odds of being depressed, three times increased odds of having many psychosomatic symptoms, and double the odds of having many symptoms of musculoskeletal pain.
The findings make an important contribution to the social capital – health debate by demonstrating relations between social capital factors and self-reported ill health in a young population.