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Int J Nurs Stud. 2010 Nov;47(11):1389-96. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2010.05.001.

The effect of a solution-focused approach to improve self-efficacy in socially withdrawn school children: a non-randomized controlled trial.

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Diakonova University College, Oslo, Norway.



Socially withdrawn children can improve their social skills through increased self-efficacy. Previous studies have shown that socially withdrawn children are prone to low self-efficacy and problems at school. Therefore, we investigated the effects of an intervention on the self-efficacy of these school children. A solution-focused approach may be an appropriate tool in such interventions.


To explore the effects of a group intervention based on a solution-focused approach on the self-efficacy of a group of socially withdrawn children and to explore possible sex-based differences.


This interventional study was a non-randomized controlled trial, with experimental and control groups.


The study was performed within the school health services of 14 primary schools in eastern Norway from 2006 to 2008.


School children who were aged 12-13 years and identified as socially withdrawn participated: 156 at baseline, but 6 dropped out before the first measurement and an additional 6 did not complete the second measurement.


The participants completed questionnaires assessing general self-efficacy, social self-efficacy, and assertive self-efficacy at three different times. The first time was at baseline, the second was immediately after the 6-week intervention period, and the third was 3 months after the intervention.


The general self-efficacy scores increased significantly among girls in the experimental group immediately after the intervention compared with those of the control group. The effect size was 0.60. No significant change was observed among the boys at the same time. From baseline to 3 months after the intervention, the general self-efficacy scores increased for both sexes in the experimental group and also in the control group. The assertive self-efficacy of the boys in the experimental group also increased (effect size, 0.29).


This study demonstrates that socially withdrawn children can benefit from a solution-focused approach group intervention and reach their goals, probably because they learn from each other and share their feelings, experiences, and support. These results indicate that a solution-focused approach may be suitable for school nurses in their work with children with special needs. Solution-focused groups are also recommended for use in school health services.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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