Social capital, political trust, and health locus of control: a population-based study

Martin Lindström
Scandinavian Journal of Public Health 2011, 39 (1): 3-9

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the association between political trust in the Riksdag and lack of belief in the possibility to influence one's own health (external locus of control), taking horizontal trust into account.

DESIGN/SETTING/PARTICIPANTS/MEASUREMENTS: The 2008 public health survey in Skåne is a cross-sectional postal questionnaire study with a 55% participation rate. A random sample of 28,198 persons aged 18-80 years participated. Logistic regression models were used to investigate the associations between political trust in the Riksdag (an aspect of vertical trust) and lack of belief in the possibility to influence one's own health (external locus of control). The multiple regression analyses included age, country of birth, education, and horizontal trust in other people.

RESULTS: A 33.7% of all men and 31.8% of all women lack internal locus of control. Low (external) health locus of control is more common in higher age groups, among people born outside Sweden, with lower education, low horizontal trust, low political trust, and no opinion concerning political trust. Respondents with not particularly strong political trust, no political trust at all and no opinion have significantly higher odds ratios of external locus of control throughout the multiple regression analyses.

CONCLUSIONS: Low political trust in the Riksdag seems to be independently associated with external health locus of control.

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