Citation: Robards, F., M. Kang, G. Luscombe, C. Hawke, L. Sanci, K. Steinbeck, K. Zwi, S. Towns and T. Usherwood (2020). "Intersectionality: Social marginalisation and self-reported health status in young people." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17(21): 8104.



Background: The aim of this study was to measure young people’s health status and explore associations between health status and belonging to one or more socio-culturally marginalised group. 

Methods: Part of the Access 3 project, this cross-sectional survey of young people aged 12–24 years living in New South Wales, Australia, oversampled young people from one or more of the following groups: Aboriginal and or Torres Strait Islander; living in rural and remote areas; homeless; refugee; and/or, sexuality and/or gender diverse. This paper reports on findings pertaining to health status, presence of chronic health conditions, psychological distress, and wellbeing measures. 

Results: 1416 participants completed the survey; 897 (63.3%) belonged to at least one marginalised group; 574 (40.5%) to one, 281 (19.8%) to two and 42 (3.0%) to three or four groups. Belonging to more marginalised groups was significantly associated with having more chronic health conditions (p = 0.001), a greater likelihood of high psychological distress (p = 0.001) and of illness or injury related absence from school or work (p < 0.05). 

Conclusions: Increasing marginalisation is associated with decreasing health status. Using an intersectional lens can be a useful way to understand disadvantage for young people belonging to multiple marginalised groups.

About The Authors


Dr Fiona Robards has been involved in research, policy, management and clinical work for over 25 yea...

  Associate Professor  

Melissa Kang is an Associate Professor in Public Health at the University of Technology Sydney, and ...


Lena Sanci is Head, Department of General Practice, Director of Teaching and Learning, Chair of the ...


Kate Steinbeck is an endocrinologist and adolescent physician, and Professor and Medical Foundation ...