Poor attendance in school has been a growing concern for parents and teachers. A new study has found a link between poor school attendance and anxiety. Published in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health, the research team from the University of Exeter Medical School conducted a systematic review, which analyses all available evidence in the field.
The research is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the National Institute for Health Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC) and identified the lack of lack of high-quality research in the area.
Previously, 4930 studies were conducted on this topic, but only 11 met the criteria which meant they could be included in the robust analysis. These studies were conducted across North America, Europe, and Asia.
For this study, the team categorized school attendance into absenteeism (i.e. total absences); excused/medical absences; unexcused absences/truancy; and school refusal, where the child struggles to attend school due to emotional distress, despite awareness from parents and teachers.
Eight study findings found a link between truancy and anxiety and anticipated the link between anxiety and school refusal. Lead author Katie Finning said: "Anxiety is a major issue that not only affects young people's schooling but can also lead to worse academic, social and economic outcomes throughout life. It's important that we pick up the warning signs and support our young people as early as possible. Our research has identified a gap of high-quality studies in this area, and we urgently need to address this gap so that we best understand how to give our young people the best start in life."
Professor Tamsin Ford who was a part of the research team said, School staff and health professionals should be alert to the possibility that anxiety might underlie poor school attendance and can also cause lots of different physical symptoms, such as tummy and headaches".
Let’s hope the findings of this study makes people more aware of the rising levels of anxiety, and in continuation help, people find a solution for it.