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Eur J Public Health. 2018 Jun 1;28(3):504-509. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cky025.

Association between adolescents' academic aspirations and expectations and mental health: a one-year follow-up study.

Author information

1
Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
2
Centre for Epidemiology and Community Medicine, Stockholm County Council, Stockholm, Sweden.

Abstract

Background:

Mental health problems among youth have increased in Sweden in recent decades, as has competition in higher education and the labour market. It is unknown whether the increasing emphasis put on educational achievement might negatively affect adolescents' mental health. We aimed to investigate the relationship between adolescents' academic aspirations and expectations and the risk of mental health problems.

Methods:

We studied 3343 Swedish 7th grade adolescents (age 13), who participated in the first two waves of the KUPOL longitudinal study; participants answered a questionnaire encompassing the five-item Future Aspirations and Goals (FG) subscale of the Student Engagement Instrument, two questions about their own academic aspirations and expectations and two mental health instruments: the Center for Epidemiological studies for Children (CES-DC) (α=.90) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) (α=.78). The association between aspirations and expectations at baseline and mental health at follow-up was analysed using logistic regression models adjusting for baseline mental health, socio-demographic and family factors.

Results:

The FG subscale was inversely and linearly associated with the odds of high CES-DC score [adjusted OR (odds ratio) 0.71, 95% CI (confidence interval): 0.59-0.86], total Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire score (OR 0.59, 95% CI 0.49-0.71), and its internalizing (OR 0.70, 95% CI 0.59-0.84) and externalizing problems scores (OR 0.58, 95% CI 0.48-0.71).

Conclusions:

Adolescents with high individual academic aspirations have less mental health problems at 1-year follow-up. Future studies should investigate whether interventions aimed at increasing aspirations and engagement in school may prevent mental health problems in adolescence.

PMID:
29590328
DOI:
10.1093/eurpub/cky025

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