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Effectiveness of the settings-based intervention Shaping the Social on preventing dropout from vocational education: a Danish non-randomized controlled trial

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BACKGROUND: Lack of formal education is an important social determinant of health inequality and represents a public health problem. School dropout is particularly common in vocational education; however few prevention programs targeting dropout in the vocational school setting have been evaluated. The purpose of the present study was to test the effect on school dropout of a settings-based intervention program (named Shaping the Social) that targeted the school organization in order to create social and supportive learning environments.

METHODS: A non-randomized controlled design including four large intervention schools and six matched-control schools was used. The target population was students in technical and agricultural vocational education, which is provided to students from age 16. Students were enrolled at school start. Register-based data (n = 10,190) was used to assess the effect on school dropout during a 2-year period. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated in logistic regression models, adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, parental income, prior school dropout and type of basic course. Student survey (n = 2396) at 10-week follow-up was used to examine wellbeing at school (four subscales: school connectedness, student support, teacher relatedness, and valuing the profession) which was the hypothesized proximal intervention effect. As a secondary aim, we examined how the student wellbeing factors were associated with school dropout, independently of the intervention, and we explored whether the student wellbeing factors were potential mediators.

RESULTS: The present study showed an intervention effect on school dropout with dropout rates lower in intervention schools (36%) than control schools (40%) (OR = 0.86, 95% CI: 0.74, 0.99). We had no attrition on the dropout outcome. School connectedness mediated the intervention effect; no significant mediation effects were found for student support, teacher relatedness, and valuing the profession. Independently of the intervention, each student wellbeing factor prevented dropout.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study suggest that a comprehensive, multicomponent school-based intervention could prevent dropout from vocational education by promoting school connectedness; nevertheless, the dropout rate remained high. Our results point to the need to explore how to further improve the wellbeing at school among young people in vocational education.

TRIALS REGISTRATION: ISRCTN, ISRCTN57822968 . Registered 16 January 2013 (retrospective registered).

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Psychology
Volume6
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 12 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Adolescent, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Health Status Disparities, Humans, Male, Program Evaluation/methods, School Health Services/organization & administration, Socioeconomic Factors, Student Dropouts/psychology, Students/psychology, Surveys and Questionnaires, Vocational Education/organization & administration, Young Adult

ID: 57246617