School effects on pupils' health behaviours: evidence in support of the health promoting school

West, P., Sweeting, H. and Leyland, A.H. (2004) School effects on pupils' health behaviours: evidence in support of the health promoting school. Research Papers in Education, 19(3), pp. 261-291. (doi: 10.1080/0267152042000247972)

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Compared with the volume of research on school effects on educational outcomes, and in spite of growing interest in the health promoting school, there are very few studies that have investigated the way schools influence pupils' health behaviours. This paper reports the results of a longitudinal study of over 2000 young people in the West of Scotland who were followed from the end of primary school (age 11) to the end of statutory education (age 15), a design permitting investigation of school effects on smoking, drinking, drug use, and ‘unhealthy diet’ at two time‐points in secondary school (age 13 and 15). The results showed considerable variation in the rates of these health behaviours between 43 secondary schools. Using multi‐level modelling, and adjusting for prior (age 11) behaviour, sociodemographic characteristics, religion, family characteristics, disposable income, and parental health behaviours, the analyses showed that, with the exception of diet, school level variation (school effects) remained, meaning that pupil composition did not account for these differences. School effects were stronger for smoking and drinking than drugs, the effect remaining in a cross‐classification analysis of school and neighbourhood (as measured by postcode district). Using data from pupils about characteristics of their schools, together with three independent measures, higher levels of smoking, drinking, and drug use were found in schools containing more pupils who were disengaged from education and knew fewer teachers, and in larger schools independently rated as having a poorer ethos. These results raise several issues of interpretation, but are compatible with the attention given to school ethos in the health promoting school model.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Leyland, Professor Alastair and Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: West, P., Sweeting, H., and Leyland, A.H.
Subjects:L Education > LC Special aspects of education
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Centre for Population and Health Sciences
Journal Name:Research Papers in Education

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