246138 Association of unexplained psychosomatic symptoms with bullying and school climate

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tracy Perron, RN MSN , College of Nursing, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ
Maurice Elias, PhD , Department of Psychology, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ
Karen T. D'Alonzo, PhD RN , APNC , College of Nursing, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, NJ
Background. In recent years, school nurses have become increasingly aware of the adverse effects of bullying in the primary and secondary school setting. Victims of bullying exhibit a wide range of both physical and psychological symptoms and suffer significantly higher reporting of unexplained psychosomatic symptoms than those who are not bullied. It has been suggested that children who perceive a school climate as negative report a higher incidence of bullying than children in those schools with a positive school climate. Therefore, nurses in schools with a negative school climate may be significantly more likely to report encountering students with unexplained psychosomatic symptoms than nurses in schools with a positive school climate.

Methods. In this explanatory study, data will be gathered from two elementary schools, one middle school and one high school in a suburban community in central New Jersey. The School Community Survey (Elias, 2004) will be used to measure school climate and bullying. Records of student visits to the school nurse will be examined for evidence of psychosomatic symptoms associated with bullying, as identified in the literature. The hypothesis will be tested using multiple regression analysis. Results. Study in progress

Conclusion. School nurses frequently encounter students who repeatedly report a variety of ill-defined physical and psychological symptoms. The presence of such students may suggest a school climate that is conducive to bullying. An analysis of the specific characteristics of schools associated with a negative climate may guide future interventions to prevent bullying among primary and secondary school students.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
1) List the characteristics of a school climate which is conducive to bullying 2) Identify the psychosomatic symptoms frequently reported by students who are bullied

Keywords: Youth Violence, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: This work was completed as part of my Research Practicum in the PhD program in the College of Nursing at Rutgers University
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.