Leaving school without qualifications and mental health problems to age 30
- 493 Downloads
To examine the associations between leaving school without qualifications and subsequent mental health to age 30, using data gathered over the course of a 30-year longitudinal study.
Data were gathered over the course of a 30-year study (Christchurch Health and Development Study) of a birth cohort of 1265 children, born in Christchurch in 1977. This cohort has been studied on 22 occasions from birth to age 30. As part of this study, information was gathered on: (a) school leaving qualifications, (b) mental health problems from 18 to 30; and (c) prospectively assessed childhood and adolescent factors including: child and family background; family violence and child abuse; and adolescent mental health problems.
Leaving school without qualifications was associated with increased risks of subsequent: major depression (OR = 1.37 at 95 % CI 1.05–1.78, p = 0.019); anxiety disorder (OR = 1.99 at 95 % CI 1.55–2.57, p < 0.001); suicidal ideation/attempt (OR = 1.60 at 95 % CI 1.15–2.36, p = 0.005); alcohol abuse/dependence (OR = 1.54 at 95 % CI 1.20–1.98, p < 0.001); and illicit substance abuse/dependence (OR = 2.97 at 95 % CI 2.16–4.07, p < 0.001). Adjustment for the covariate factors above (family social background; family violence; child abuse and adolescent mental health problems) reduced these associations substantially and to the point of statistical non-significance.
The findings of this study suggest that there was no direct causal association between leaving school without qualifications and subsequent mental health problems. Associations were explained by the linkages between leaving school without qualifications and: child and family social background; and mental health around the point of school leaving.
KeywordsLongitudinal Mental health High school dropout Educational qualifications
This research was funded by grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand, the National Child Health Research Foundation (Cure Kids), the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
- 8.Freudenberg N, Ruglis J (2007) Reframing school dropout as a public health issue. Public Health Res Pract Policy 4(4):1–11Google Scholar
- 10.Fergusson DM, Swain-Campbell NR, Horwood LJ (2002) Outcomes of leaving school without formal educational qualifications. N Z J Educ Studies 37(1):39–55Google Scholar
- 16.Bandura A (1971) Social learning theory. General Learning Corporation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- 28.World Health Organization (1993) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
- 29.American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edn. American Psychiatric Association, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
- 30.Elley WB, Irving JC (1976) Revised socio-economic index for New Zealand. N Z J Educ Studies 11(1):25–36Google Scholar
- 35.Fergusson DM, Lynskey MT, Horwood LJ (1996) Childhood sexual abuse and psychiatric disorder in young adulthood: I. Prevalence of sexual abuse and factors associated with sexual abuse. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 35(10):1355–1364. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199610000-00023 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 36.Costello A, Edelbrock C, Kalas R, Kessler M, Klaric SA (1982) Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC). National Institute of Mental Health, BethesdaGoogle Scholar
- 40.Quay HC, Peterson DR (1987) Manual for the Revised Behavior Problem Checklist. University of Miami, MiamiGoogle Scholar
- 43.Carlin JB, Wolfe R, Coffey C, Patton GC (1999) Tutorial in biostatistics. Analysis of binary outcomes in longitudinal studies using weighted estimating equations and discrete-time survival methods: prevalence and incidence of smoking in an adolescent cohort. Stat Med 18:2655–2679PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar