203982 Educational Continuity as a Protective Factor for Health Behavior and Academic Achievement among Middle School Students

Monday, November 9, 2009

Scott Frank , Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Kristina Knight, MPH , Master of Public Health Program, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Jean Frank, MPH , Department of Family Medicine, Center for Adolescent Health, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Background: Residential mobility has been identified as a risk factor for health and underachievement in adolescence. Adolescents making frequent moves from one school to another are more likely to have behavioral and school problems, controlling for social factors. The resulting loss of educational continuity has the potential to impact on both the student and their school. Purpose: To examine educational continuity as a protective factor for health behavior and academic achievement among middle school students. Methods: In an integrated, inner ring middle school, a total of 1366 students were eligible to complete a core of Youth Risk Behavior Survey items, with additional items examining broader health issues. There were 1098 usable questionnaires (response rate 81%). Student participation was anonymous and voluntary. Permission slips were mailed, giving the option of excluding each child from participation. Based on concerns by school administrators, a measure of education continuity was added. Results: Educational continuity was experienced by 66% of the participants. Educational discontinuity was significantly related to African American race, low parental education, and the absence of a father in the home. Controlling for these factors, educational continuity was related to better academic performance; less depression and perceived stress; less substance abuse (cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs); and less sexual activity. Educational continuity was not related to fighting, trusted friends or adults, or participation in sports or after school programs. Conclusion: Students with educational discontinuity represent an at-risk population. Investigation regarding interventions to improve health and academic outcomes among these students is warranted.

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objectives: 1. Describe the social factors contributing to educational discontinuity. 2. Identify the mechanisms by which educational continuity may improve health and achievement. 3. Discuss interventions that could be utilized to mitigate the impact of educational discontinuity.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Family Physician; Addiction Medicine; Director, Master of Public Health Program; Co-Chair, Shaker Prevention Coalition
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.