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Archives of Medical Science
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vol. 14
Clinical research

What does the Cantril Ladder measure in adolescence?

Joanna Mazur, Monika Szkultecka-Dębek, Anna Dzielska, Mariola Drozd, Agnieszka Małkowska-Szkutnik

Arch Med Sci 2018; 14, 1: 182–189
Online publish date: 2016/06/20
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Introduction: The Cantril Scale (CS) is a simple visual scale which makes it possible to assess general life satisfaction. The result may depend on the health, living, and studying conditions, and quality of social relations. The objective of this study is to identify key factors influencing the CS score in Polish adolescents.

Material and methods: The survey comprised 1,423 parent-child pairs (54% girls; age range: 10–17; 67.3% urban inhabitants; 89.4% of parents were mothers). Linear and logistic models were estimated; the latter used alternative divisions into “satisfied” and “dissatisfied” with life. In addition to age and gender, child-reported KIDSCREEN-52 quality of life indexes were taken into account, along with some information provided by parents – child physical (CSHCN) and mental (SDQ) health, and family socio-economic conditions.

Results: According to the linear model, nine independent predictors, including six dimensions of KIDSCREEN-52, explain 47.2% of the variability of life satisfaction on the Cantril Scale. Self-perception was found to have a dominating influence (ΔR2 = 0.301, p < 0.001). Important CS predictors also included Psychological Well-being (ΔR2 = 0.088, p < 0.001) and Parent Relations ΔR2 = 0.041, p < 0.001). The impact of socioeconomic factors was more visible in boys and in older adolescents. According to logistic models, the key factors enhancing the chance of higher life satisfaction are Moods and Emotions (cut-off point CS > 5) and School Environment (CS > 8 points). None of the models indicated a relationship between the CS and physical health.

Conclusions: The Cantril Scale can be considered a useful measurement tool in a broad approach to psychosocial adolescent health.

life satisfaction, mental health, quality of life, social determinants, adolescents

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