Self-reported school experience as a predictor of self-harm during adolescence: A prospective cohort study in the South West of England (ALSPAC).


Kidger, J; Heron, J; Leon, DA; Tilling, K; Lewis, G; Gunnell, D; (2014) Self-reported school experience as a predictor of self-harm during adolescence: A prospective cohort study in the South West of England (ALSPAC). Journal of affective disorders, 173C. pp. 163-169. ISSN 0165-0327 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2014.11.003

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Abstract

Several aspects of school life are thought to be associated with increased risk of self-harm in adolescence, but these have rarely been investigated in prospective studies. Members of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) birth cohort completed postal surveys of school experiences aged 14, and self-harm behaviour aged 16 (n=3939). Associations between school experiences (feeling connected to school, enjoyment of school and perception of teachers as fair) and subsequent self-harm were examined using multivariable logistic regression models. Self-harm aged 16 was associated with earlier perceptions of school, specifically not getting on well with or feeling accepted by others (OR=2.43 [1.76, 3.35] and OR=2.69 [2.16, 3.35] respectively), not liking school or the work done in class (OR=1.40 [1.17, 1.69] and OR=1.36 [1.10, 1.67]), and feeling that teachers are not clear about behaviour or fail to address misbehaviour consistently (OR=1.59 [1.20, 2.12] OR=1.89 [1.51, 2.37]). These associations were partially attenuated in models controlling for mental health concurrent with the outcome. Poor school experiences were related to both suicidal and non-suicidal self-harm, with slightly stronger associations visible for the former. (i) There was some loss to follow up, (ii) experience of bullying was not measured, and (iii) exposure and outcome measures were self-report. Students who feel unconnected to school, unhappy at school, or feel that teachers are unfair are more likely to self-harm in the future. Assessing students׳ perceptions of school may serve to identify those at risk of self-harm who would benefit from preventative interventions.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology
Research Centre: ECOHOST - The Centre for Health and Social Change
Centre for Maternal, Reproductive and Child Health (MARCH)
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PubMed ID: 25462412
Web of Science ID: 346643500025
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/2026642

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