Psychosocial risk and protective factors of early school leaving in Luxembourg: an exploratory case-control study. (Doctoral thesis)
- Public Health Research
Considering the individual and socio-economic burden of early school leaving (ESL), the subject has gained primary concern among school professionals, researchers and political stakeholders who aim to gather the phenomenon of ESL and take action. In Luxembourg, since 2003, the ministry of education has systematically traced ESL and implemented targeted school-level interventions that certainly contributed to an overall decline of the national dropout rate. Nonetheless the proportion of young people who remain without any specific occupation after their dropout remained static, whereas the proportion of those who had resumed their education and then dropped out again even increased. These alarming observations challenge the efficiency of exclusively school-based measures and stretch the urge for considering a more holistic and preventive approach in reducing ESL. Furthermore, a significant proportion of adolescents develop a first episode of psychiatric disorder during their transition to adulthood, with incidence rates increasing by age.
In this context, a primary objective of the present study was to explore, as a national novelty, prevalence rates of psychiatric disorders among early school leavers registered for the school year 2010/2011. Furthermore, the association between mental health variables as predictor of interest and early school leaving was explored by an incident-cases nationwide case-control study. Selected socio-demographic, school-related and family variables were included in the analyses as they are factors likely to interfere with both educational attainment and mental health. Cases were defined as students who had left the national educational system at some point during the school year 2010/2011 or at year-end but without having graduated. Controls were regularly enrolled students matched on age, gender, school, type of training and educational level.
The presented research was jointly initiated by the University of Liège and the Centre for Health Studies of CRP-Santé in Luxembourg. Furthermore, it was part of the so-called PPSM “Prévention et Promotion de la Santé Mentale” mission, an “Interreg IV-A” project aimed at exploring and promoting mental health in the trans-border zone of Saarland (Germany), Lorraine (France), Wallonia (Belgium) and Luxembourg. Funding was granted under the AFR scheme of the “Fonds National de la Recherche”.
The study protocol was fully approved by the national research ethics committee ("Comité National d’Ethique de Recherche”) and notified to the national commission for data protection ("Commission Nationale pour la Protection des Données”). Data collection was based on 200 individual interviews (100 in each group) and targeted socio-demographic variables, school experiences, psychiatric syndromes and disorder diagnoses according to DSM IV, problematic internet use and family variables.