Special Issue "School Health and Wellbeing"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Children's Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Arja Rimpelä

Guest Editor
Tampere University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Unit of Health Sciences, Tampere Finland
Interests: school health; adolescents; tobacco policies; health and learning; socioeconomic health differences
Prof. Vincent Lorant

Guest Editor
Catholic University of Louvain, Institute of Health and Society, Brussels, Belgium
Interests: health inequalities; network and health; adolescents ‘health behaviors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Children and adolescents spent a remarkable amount of their time at school. School is not only a place for learning, but also an important setting for peer relationships and activities. Health and risk factors for health are closely related with a school’s organization and performance, the effects of which can be seen in adulthood in educational health differences.  

We understand health as a concept covering physical and psychosocial aspects, and that the health of individual students and the school community in whole can be a target of research. There is, however, less research on the factors and processes that affect an entire school community. Schools can be seen as organizations with their own ethos and practices, but which need to follow national guidelines.   

We welcome papers that address school health and wellbeing from different perspectives and research fields: Public health, sociology, psychology, geography, and economics. Multidisciplinary papers are of particular interest here, as well as those being able to study different levels (individual, class, school) or cross-country comparisons. We welcome both quantitative and qualitative approaches and hope that the papers bring an understanding of improving school health and wellbeing. We are looking forward to receiving your contribution and creating a Special Issue that will provide readers with new information on school health and wellbeing.

Prof. Dr. Arja Rimpelä
Prof. Vincent Lorant
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Learning and health
  • School health promotion policies and practices
  • Health and health behaviors in the school community
  • Educational trajectories and wellbeing
  • School health and welfare services

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Accumulated Disadvantage over the Lower Secondary School Years in Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2290; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072290 (registering DOI) - 29 Mar 2020
Abstract
Accumulated disadvantage (AD) is conceptualised here as an agglomeration of unfavourable or prejudicial conditions which in adolescence may compromise the progress to further education or future life chances. There are several theories on AD, suggesting, e.g., (1) an increase of AD by age [...] Read more.
Accumulated disadvantage (AD) is conceptualised here as an agglomeration of unfavourable or prejudicial conditions which in adolescence may compromise the progress to further education or future life chances. There are several theories on AD, suggesting, e.g., (1) an increase of AD by age and (2) trajectories (previous disadvantage predicts later disadvantage). Social pathways theory suggests that (3) a third factor (e.g., socioeconomic position, SEP) mediates or moderates the association between early and later disadvantage, while other theories imply (4) polarisation (a strengthening association between AD and SEP by age) or (5) equalisation (a weakening of association between AD and SEP). We apply these theories to longitudinal data of 7th graders (13 years, N = 5742), followed until the end of the 9th grade. Five dimensions of disadvantage were health (poor self-rated health), social behaviour (poor prosocial behaviour), normative (conduct disorders), educational (poor academic achievement), and economic (parental unemployment). The results show that the prevalence of AD increased over the follow-up as most indicators of disadvantage elevated. AD at the 7th grade predicted later AD, as did the SEP of the students. Moderation of AD by SEP was also observed. The study corroborates with hypotheses on increase of AD, trajectory, and social pathways but no signs of polarisation or equalisation were observed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
Open AccessArticle
The Effect of The Daily Mile on Primary School Children’s Aerobic Fitness Levels After 12 Weeks: A Controlled Trial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2198; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072198 (registering DOI) - 25 Mar 2020
Abstract
The Daily Mile (TDM) is a school-based physical activity intervention encompassing a 15-minute run at least three times per week. This study aimed to determine (1) the effects of performing TDM for 12 weeks on Dutch primary school children’s aerobic fitness levels and [...] Read more.
The Daily Mile (TDM) is a school-based physical activity intervention encompassing a 15-minute run at least three times per week. This study aimed to determine (1) the effects of performing TDM for 12 weeks on Dutch primary school children’s aerobic fitness levels and (2) if additional personal support for teachers impacted the effectiveness of TDM. Nine Dutch primary schools (n = 659 children, grades 5–8) were allocated to a control (no TDM), intervention (12 weeks TDM) or intervention-plus (12 weeks TDM, additional personal support) group. The Shuttle Run Test (SRT) was used to assess aerobic fitness at baseline and follow-up. Data were analyzed using a multiple-imputed dataset and multilevel linear regression models to account for the clustering of students within classes and classes within schools. The regression analyses were adjusted for sex and age. Compared with the control group, significant intervention effects of TDM on SRT score were observed for the intervention group (β = 1.1; 95% CI: 0.8; 1.5) and the intervention-plus group (β = 0.6; 95% CI 0.3; 0.9). Additional personal support had no impact on the effectiveness of TDM. These results suggest that performing TDM at least three times per week for approximately 12 weeks increases primary school children’s aerobic fitness. Additional personal support did not improve the effectiveness of TDM on aerobic fitness within this period. These results contribute to the body of evidence surrounding TDM, but further research is needed regarding long-term implementation of TDM. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
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Open AccessArticle
Changes in Physical Activity, Physical Fitness and Well-Being Following a School-Based Health Promotion Program in a Norwegian Region with a Poor Public Health Profile: A Non-Randomized Controlled Study in Early Adolescents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 896; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030896 - 31 Jan 2020
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in physical activity (PA), physical fitness and psychosocial well-being in early adolescents following implementation of a school-based health promotion program in secondary schools. Methods: Six municipalities in Telemark County, Norway, were recruited into [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in physical activity (PA), physical fitness and psychosocial well-being in early adolescents following implementation of a school-based health promotion program in secondary schools. Methods: Six municipalities in Telemark County, Norway, were recruited into intervention (6 schools) or control groups (9 schools). A total of 644 pupils participated in the study (response rate: 79%). The schools in the intervention group implemented the Active and Healthy Kids program, where the PA component consisted of (1) 120 min/week of physically active learning (PAL) and (2) 25 min/week of physical active breaks. Furthermore, both the intervention and control schools carried out 135 min/week of physical education. The primary outcome was PA. Secondary outcomes were sedentary time, physical fitness, subjective vitality and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in five domains: physical health, psychological well-being, parent, peers and school. Results: There was a group x time effect on school-based PA (p < 0.05), but not total PA, as well as on physical fitness (p < 0.05) and vitality (p < 0.01). In girls, there also was a group x time effect on three out of the five domains on HRQoL (p < 0.05). Conclusions: A multi-component, school-based health-promotion program with emphasis on the use of PAL led to positive changes in school-based PA levels. Furthermore, positive changes were seen in physical fitness, vitality and HRQoL among early adolescents in a county with a poor public health profile. This might have implications for the development and promotion in schools of general health and well-being throughout adolescence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
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Open AccessArticle
School Ethos and Recurring Sickness Absence: A Multilevel Study of Ninth-Grade Students in Stockholm
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 745; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030745 - 23 Jan 2020
Abstract
School absence has been identified as a severe problem in Sweden, both at the individual level and for society as a whole. Despite the multitude and complexity of reasons behind school absence, health-related problems are likely to be one important determinant. This indicates [...] Read more.
School absence has been identified as a severe problem in Sweden, both at the individual level and for society as a whole. Despite the multitude and complexity of reasons behind school absence, health-related problems are likely to be one important determinant. This indicates that knowledge about factors that may contribute to preventing health-related absence among students is relevant. The aim was to investigate whether a higher level of teacher-reported school ethos was associated with less recurring sickness absence among students. Data from four cross-sectional surveys performed in 2014 and 2016 were combined. The Stockholm School Survey was carried out among 9482 ninth-grade students (ages 15–16 years) in 150 school units, and the Stockholm Teacher Survey was performed among 2090 teachers in the same units. School ethos was operationalised by an index of 12 teacher-reported items that was aggregated to the school-level. Recurring student sickness absence was captured by self-reports and defined as absence on >10 occasions during the current school year. Two-level logistic regressions were performed. The results show that about 9.5% of the students reported recurring sickness absence. Students attending schools with higher levels of teacher-rated school ethos were less likely to reporting recurring sickness absence than those attending schools with lower levels of ethos, even when adjusting for potential confounders (OR 0.79, 95% CI 0.65–0.97). In conclusion, recurring sickness absence was less common among students attending schools with higher levels of teacher-rated ethos. The findings suggest that schools may contribute to promoting student health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
Open AccessArticle
Knowledge, Skills, and Support Needed by Teaching Personnel for Managing Challenging Situations with Pupils
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3646; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193646 - 28 Sep 2019
Abstract
It is not uncommon for teachers to face challenging behavioral issues in their classrooms, including disruptive, aggressive, or insulting behavior toward peers or adults. In this paper, we describe what knowledge, skills, and support is needed among teaching personnel to manage challenging situations [...] Read more.
It is not uncommon for teachers to face challenging behavioral issues in their classrooms, including disruptive, aggressive, or insulting behavior toward peers or adults. In this paper, we describe what knowledge, skills, and support is needed among teaching personnel to manage challenging situations with pupils. This study was carried out in one comprehensive school in Southwest Finland. Two focus group interviews were conducted with teaching personnel (schoolteachers and classroom assistants, N = 16). The participants also wrote short texts about challenging situations they had experienced. The qualitative data were analyzed with inductive content analysis. According to the results, the teaching personnel needed better knowledge about the factors affecting pupils’ behavior and about good practices to apply with pupils in challenging situations. Moreover, the personnel lacked the skills needed to anticipate and recognize pupils’ moods and signs of mental distress, and expressed the desire for support from mental health professionals. Teachers with adequate knowledge about the factors linked to behavioral issues are more capable of promoting environments conducive to positive interactions with their pupils, thereby limiting challenging situations. When developing education and support for teaching personnel, collaboration between education and mental health professionals is essential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
Open AccessArticle
Impact of a Web Program to Support the Mental Wellbeing of High School Students: A Quasi Experimental Feasibility Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(14), 2473; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16142473 - 11 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Little effort has been made to investigate the potential of web programs aimed to support the mental wellbeing of adolescents in school environments in middle-income countries. A quasi-experimental feasibility study was conducted in Thailand with adolescents (N = 180) in three conveniently sampled [...] Read more.
Little effort has been made to investigate the potential of web programs aimed to support the mental wellbeing of adolescents in school environments in middle-income countries. A quasi-experimental feasibility study was conducted in Thailand with adolescents (N = 180) in three conveniently sampled high schools and with teachers (N = 12) who acted as program tutors. The web program was used in small groups, independently, or it was not used at all. No statistically significant changes were found between the groups regarding depression, stress, or satisfaction. Differences between program users (n = 61) and non-users (n = 48) were not significant. Acceptance was higher among adolescents who used the program independently (n = 40, 73% vs. n = 21, 39%; p = 0.001). Usability feedback did not differ between the groups. Support should be provided in order for programs to be potentially used. More information is needed regarding factors associated with the use of web programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
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Open AccessArticle
How do Interpersonal Relationships Relieve Adolescents’ Problematic Mobile Phone Use? The Roles of Loneliness and Motivation to Use Mobile Phones
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(13), 2286; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16132286 - 28 Jun 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
The current study aimed to explore the underlying mechanisms of how interpersonal relationships relieve adolescents’ problematic mobile phone use (PMPU) and to examine the potential mediating roles of loneliness and motivation to use mobile phones. Four thousand five hundred and nine middle school [...] Read more.
The current study aimed to explore the underlying mechanisms of how interpersonal relationships relieve adolescents’ problematic mobile phone use (PMPU) and to examine the potential mediating roles of loneliness and motivation to use mobile phones. Four thousand five hundred and nine middle school students from four provinces in China were recruited to participate in the investigation. The results showed that the parent–child relationship but not the teacher–student relationship, had a direct and negative effect on PMPU. The parent–child relationship had indirect effects on PMPU through the mediators of loneliness, escape motivation and relationship motivation; the teacher–student relationship had indirect effects on PMPU only through the mediating factors of loneliness and escape motivation. Both parent–child and teacher–student relationships indirectly affected PMPU through a two-step path from loneliness to escape motivation. These findings highlight the more salient role of the parent–child relationship than that of the teacher–student relationship in directly alleviating PMPU and indicate that satisfying interpersonal relationships can buffer adolescents’ PMPU by lowering their loneliness and motivation to use mobile phones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
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Open AccessArticle
Relationships between Sleep Patterns, Health Risk Behaviors, and Health Outcomes among School-Based Population of Adolescents: A Panel Analysis of the Korean Children and Youth Panel Survey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(13), 2278; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16132278 - 27 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Sleep patterns among adolescents are related to health outcomes and health risk behaviors. This study aimed to describe sleep patterns of Korean adolescents and to find the association between sleep patterns and health risk behaviors and health outcomes. Using the junior high school [...] Read more.
Sleep patterns among adolescents are related to health outcomes and health risk behaviors. This study aimed to describe sleep patterns of Korean adolescents and to find the association between sleep patterns and health risk behaviors and health outcomes. Using the junior high school students’ panel data (n = 2351, 12–15 years old) from the Korean Children and Youth Panel Survey, this study described the sleep patterns operationalized as rising time, bedtime, and sleep duration both on weekdays and weekends. The relationships of sleep patterns with health outcomes and/or health risk behaviors were tested using mixed effect linear regression for continuous health variables and using mixed effect logit regression for binary health variables. Obesity status, the number of chronic symptoms, self-rated health status, smoking, and alcohol consumption were associated with rising time on weekdays after controlling for gender, living area, and housing type. The same set of variables except for the number of chronic symptoms were associated with bedtime during the weekdays. Sleep duration during the weekdays was associated with obesity status, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Similar patterns of association between sleep pattern variables during the weekends and health-related outcome variables were found, but were less obvious than those for weekdays. Significant relationships between sleep patterns and various health-related variables were found among adolescents in Korea. The results from this study indicate that helping adolescents change their sleeping times as necessary to ensure adequate sleep should be considered important in diminishing health risk behaviors and promoting positive health outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
Open AccessArticle
When and How Do Emotional Intelligence and Flourishing Protect against Suicide Risk in Adolescent Bullying Victims?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2114; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122114 - 14 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
This study contributes to current knowledge on the protective role of emotional intelligence and flourishing in cases of suicide risk (namely depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation) in a sample of adolescent victims of traditional bullying. The proposed model tested the mediator role of [...] Read more.
This study contributes to current knowledge on the protective role of emotional intelligence and flourishing in cases of suicide risk (namely depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation) in a sample of adolescent victims of traditional bullying. The proposed model tested the mediator role of flourishing in the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) and suicide risk together with the moderating effect of EI in the relationship between low flourishing and increased suicide risk. Considering an initial sample of 1847 adolescents (52.5% female), a subsample of 494 pure bullying victims (61.3% female) took part in this research. The main results showed EI to be linked to decreased suicide risk through levels of flourishing. Moreover, EI buffered the relationship between low flourishing and the associated suicide risk. Victimized adolescents with both low levels of EI and of flourishing reported higher levels of suicide risk than their counterparts with high EI levels. This suggests the protective role of EI of both predicting higher flourishing and reducing the likelihood of suicide risk among victimized adolescents with low levels of flourishing. Finally, the practical implications of these novel findings regarding the role of EI and flourishing in the prevention of suicide risk among victimized adolescents are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Adolescent Smoking in Secondary Schools that Have Implemented Smoke-Free Policies: In-Depth Exploration of Shared Smoking Patterns
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(12), 2100; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16122100 - 13 Jun 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Large numbers of adolescents smoke during school hours, despite the implementation of smoke-free school policies (SFSPs). Studies about SFSPs predominantly analyse smoking as individual behaviour, yet there is increasing recognition that smoking should be understood as social behaviour. We explored shared smoking patterns [...] Read more.
Large numbers of adolescents smoke during school hours, despite the implementation of smoke-free school policies (SFSPs). Studies about SFSPs predominantly analyse smoking as individual behaviour, yet there is increasing recognition that smoking should be understood as social behaviour. We explored shared smoking patterns specifying where, when, and with whom, and social meanings about why groups of adolescents smoke in two Dutch schools that have implemented SFSPs. Surveys among adolescents were held to obtain contextual information about the schools. Four focus group discussions and fourteen individual interviews were held with adolescents to identify shared smoking patterns in each school. Two shared patterns were identified at a school where 17% of students smoked daily: Dependent smoking and Rebellious smoking. Both built on pro-smoking norms and underscored the benefits of smoking. Three shared patterns were identified at a school where 3% of students smoked daily: Social bonding smoking, Low-profile smoking and Smoking-friendly event smoking. These built on anti-smoking norms and helped smokers cope with negative social judgements related to smoking. We conclude that adolescent smoking during school hours is embedded in diverse shared smoking patterns. Future studies should develop more understanding about how to deal with adolescents’ shared smoking patterns that decrease the effectiveness of tobacco policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
Open AccessArticle
The Association between Perceived Adequacy and Capacity for School Food Policy Implementation with Food Availability and Policy Adherence in Nova Scotia, Canada
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(11), 1974; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16111974 - 04 Jun 2019
Abstract
Supporting the implementation of school food and nutrition policies is an international priority to encourage healthier eating among children and youth. Schools are an important intervention setting to promote childhood nutrition, and many jurisdictions have adopted policies, guidelines, and programs to modify the [...] Read more.
Supporting the implementation of school food and nutrition policies is an international priority to encourage healthier eating among children and youth. Schools are an important intervention setting to promote childhood nutrition, and many jurisdictions have adopted policies, guidelines, and programs to modify the school nutrition environment and promote healthier eating. The purpose of this study was to explore the association between perceived adequacy of facilities or equipment and capacity of staff to support policy implementation with food availability and policy adherence in the province of Nova Scotia (NS), Canada, one of the first regions in Canada to launch a comprehensive school food and nutrition policy (SFNP). A cross-sectional online survey was conducted in 2014–2015 to provide a current-state assessment of policy implementation and adherence. Adequacy and capacity for food policy implementation was used to assess policy adherence through the availability of prohibited ‘minimum’ nutrition foods. An exploratory factor analysis was conducted on a selection of available foods, and ‘slow’- and ‘quick’-service food composition measures were dichotomized for food availability. Schools with above-average perceived adequacy and capacity for policy implementation had greater odds (OR = 3.62, CI = 1.56, 8.40) of adhering to a lunch policy, while schools that adhered to a snack and lunch policy had lower odds (OR = 0.48, CI = 0.23, 1.01 and OR = 0.18, CI = 0.08, 0.41) of serving quick-service foods. This study identified the need for appropriate adequacy of facilities or equipment and capacity of staff for policy implementation to ensure policy adherence and improve the school food environment. These findings highlight the relationship between school food and nutrition policies, suggesting that better supporting their implementation could increase the likelihood of their success. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
Open AccessArticle
Mental Health among Left-Behind Children in Rural China in Relation to Parent-Child Communication
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(10), 1855; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16101855 - 26 May 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
In China, there are an estimated 41 million left-behind children (LBC). The objective of this study was to examine the mental health of current-left-behind children (current-LBC) and previous-left-behind children (previous-LBC) as compared to never-left-behind children (never-LBC), while considering factors like parent-child communication. Children [...] Read more.
In China, there are an estimated 41 million left-behind children (LBC). The objective of this study was to examine the mental health of current-left-behind children (current-LBC) and previous-left-behind children (previous-LBC) as compared to never-left-behind children (never-LBC), while considering factors like parent-child communication. Children were recruited from schools in rural areas of Anhui province in eastern China. Participants completed a questionnaire focusing on migration status, mental health, and parent-child communication, measured with the validated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and Parent–Adolescent Communication Scale (PACS). Full data were available for 1251 current-, 473 previous-, and 268 never-LBC in Anhui province. After adjusting for all confounding variables, the results showed that both current and previous parental migration was associated with significantly higher mental health difficulties, including aspects of emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and total difficulties. Additionally, we found that difficulties communicating with parents were strongly associated with the presence of greater total difficulties in children. Parental migration has an independent, long-lasting negative effect on children. Poor parent-child communication is strongly associated with children’s mental health. These results indicate that parent–child communication is important for the development of children, and interventions are needed to improve migrant parents’ understanding and communication skills with their children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue School Health and Wellbeing)
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