The importance of school connectedness in adolescent risk taking and injury prevention

Chapman, Rebekah L., Buckley, Lisa, & Sheehan, Mary C. (2009) The importance of school connectedness in adolescent risk taking and injury prevention. In 39th Annual Conference Public Health Association of Australia , 28-30 September, 2009, Hotel Realm, Canberra. (Unpublished)

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Background: Injury is the leading cause of mortality for young people in Australia (AIHW, 2008). Adolescent injury mortality is consistently associated with risk taking behaviour, including transport and interpersonal violence (AIHW, 2003), which often occurs in the context of alcohol and other substance use. A rapid increase in risk taking and injury through early to late adolescence highlights the need for effective school based interventions.

Aim: The aim of the current research was to examine the relationship between school connectedness and adolescent risk and injury, in order to inform effective prevention approaches. School connectedness, or students’ feelings of belongingness to school, has been shown to be a critical protective factor in adolescence which can be targeted effectively through teacher interventions. Despite evidence linking low school connectedness with increased health risk behaviour, including substance use and violence, research has not yet addressed possible links between connectedness and a broader range of risk taking behaviours (e.g. transport risks) or injury.

Method: This study involved background data collection to inform the development of an intervention. A total of 595 Year 9 students (aged 13-14 years) from 5 Southeast Queensland high schools completed questionnaires that included measures of school connectedness, risk taking behaviour, alcohol and other substance use, and injuries.

Results: Increased school connectedness was found to be associated with fewer transport risk behaviours and with decreased alcohol and other substance use for both males and females. Similarly, increased school connectedness was associated with fewer passenger and motorcycle injuries for male participants. Both males and females with increased school connectedness reported fewer alcohol related injuries.

Implications: These results indicate that school connectedness appears to have protective effects for early adolescence. These findings may also hold for older adolescents and indicate that it may be an important factor to target in school based risk and injury prevention programs. A school connectedness intervention is currently being designed, focusing on teacher professional development. The intervention will be implemented in conjunction with a curriculum based injury prevention program for Year 9 students and will be evaluated through a large scale cluster randomised trial involving 26 schools.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 27690
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: No
Keywords: Adolescent, Injury prevention, School connectedness, Risk taking behaviour
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > PSYCHOLOGY (170100)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > OTHER EDUCATION (139900)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 02 Oct 2009 00:18
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2013 23:37

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