About the project
There is a high rate of school absenteeism and drop out in Norwegian high schools. Dropout can have detrimental consequences for later employment and health and is increasingly recognized as a public health problem.
It is therefore important to investigate the possible reasons for early school leaving in adolescence, as well as factors that can act as buffers against risk for dropout.
We know that the prevalence of depressive symptoms increase in the adolescent years, especially among girls, and the proportion of adolescents who experience such difficulties has increased during the past decades. In adults, depression has been associated with reduced work-life participation, which suggests that depression could be of importance for school functioning and completion in adolescence.
It has been well established that mental health is related to high school dropout, but the association has been less clear for depression than other mental health problems. One possible reason is that there is a likely gender difference both in the presence of depressive symptoms and in the association with school functioning. It is therefore important to investigate such associations for boys and girls separately.
In addition to investigating possible risk factors for dropout, it is important to gain knowledge of protective factors. Even less is known about factors that might be protective and reduce the risk of high school dropout, but previous research suggest that social relationships with friends and family can be of importance for high school functioning. We aim to investigate such associations and to compare the influence protective factors in the individual, such as personal competence, and social support from friends and family. We will further investigate how protective factors can have a moderating influence on the association between symptoms of depression and later high school dropout.
The overall goal of the project is to investigate how depression in adolescence and individual, social and familial protective factors are associated with dropout from high school.
The project will utilize data from the youth@hordaland-survey, a population based study of mental health and protective factors conducted in Hordaland in 2012. Information from the survey will be linked to registry data on school absence, school achievements and school completion, which will provide a unique data material to identify both risk and protective factors for later school functioning.
The inclusion of protective factors in addition to depressive symptoms will enable us to identify important strengths that can be bolstered in adolescents in order to increase the likelihood of high school completion. An important aim in the later stages of the project is to try to identify ways to translate the findings into interventions targeting adolescents in high school.