Be(ing) prepared: Guide and Scout participation, childhood social position and mental health at age 50-a prospective birth cohort study

Dibben, C., Playford, C. and Mitchell, R. (2016) Be(ing) prepared: Guide and Scout participation, childhood social position and mental health at age 50-a prospective birth cohort study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 71(3), pp. 275-281. (doi:10.1136/jech-2016-207898) (PMID:27834224) (PMCID:PMC5318648)

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Abstract

Background: Mental health is a major concern in many countries. We explore whether youth participation in the Scouts and Guides could protect mental health in later life and in particular whether it might reduce inequalities in mental health associated with early life socioeconomic position. Methods: Using the 1958 birth cohort National Child Development Study, we tested whether Scouts–Guide attendance was associated with mental health (SF-36, Mental Health Index (MHI-5)) controlling for childhood risk factors and interacted with social class. Results: Of the 9603 cohort members, 28% had participated in the Scouts–Guides. The average MHI-5 score was 74.8 (SD 18.2) at age 50. After adjustment, for potential childhood confounders, participation in Scouts–Guides was associated with a better MHI-5 score of 2.22 (CI 1.32 to 3.08). Among those who had not been a Scout–Guide, there was a gradient in mental health at age 50 by childhood social position, adjusting for other childhood risk factors. This gradient was absent among those who had been a Scout–Guide. Scout–Guides had an 18% lower odds of an MHI-5 score indicative of mood or anxiety disorder. The findings appeared robust to various tests for residual confounding. Conclusions: Participation in Guides or Scouts was associated with better mental health and narrower mental health inequalities, at age 50. This suggests that youth programmes that support resilience and social mobility through developing the potential for continued progressive self-education, ‘soft’ non-cognitive skills, self-reliance, collaboration and activities in natural environments may be protective of mental health in adulthood.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mitchell, Professor Richard
Authors: Dibben, C., Playford, C., and Mitchell, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:0143-005X
ISSN (Online):1470-2738
Published Online:10 November 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 71(3):275-281
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
645111Scottish Administrative Data Research Centre (ADRC)Nick BaileyEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/L007487/1SPS - URBAN STUDIES
645111Scottish Administrative Data Research Centre (ADRC)Nick BaileyEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/L007487/1SPS - URBAN STUDIES