The association between childhood school engagement and attainment and adult education and health outcomes: preliminary findings from an interdisciplinary research project using longitudinal Australian cohort data - Joan Abbott-Chapman, Seana Gall, Nadia Ollington, Kara Martin, Terry Dwyer, Alison Venn

Year: 2011

Author: Abbott-Chapman, Joan

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Analysis of longitudinal Australian national education and health data has revealed the significant relationship between students' school engagement and academic attainment and adult education and health outcomes, twenty years later. There is a growing international literature that suggests that school engagement is associated with health behaviours in childhood and adolescence. However, this is the first study that we know of that has been able to track the effects through to adulthood. Preliminary findings to be discussed have emerged from an interdisciplinary study with the aim of constructing a Child Health Orientation Index. This is one of a number of studies based on analysis of a longitudinal Australian dataset, made up of the 8,498 students aged 7 to 15 years who responded to the 1985 Australian Schools Health and Fitness Survey (ASHFS) and its follow-up study of 5,170 adult respondents to the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health (CDAH) Study, conducted between 2001 and 2006. The Childhood Health Orientation Index will identify students at risk as adults of cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease and diabetes account for almost a quarter of all healthy years of life lost in Australia. This study aims to increase our understanding of the interaction between education and health, with a view to informing prevention strategies. In this paper we present preliminary findings about the association between key education and health variables in childhood and adulthood of the 5,665 children aged 9 to 15 years originally surveyed and 3,374 adults with comparative data from the cohort surveyed twenty-years later. We shall discuss the construction of an index of 'school engagement' and its association with selected childhood and adult education and health variables, in relation to the international literature and to national priorities of preventive health. Special Interest Group: Health and Physical Education