Psychological problems in adolescents negatively affect school performance

Psychosocial problems affect adolescents’ school performance more than physical health problems, which have little effect on this. Researchers from the Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam (AMC), and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) have shown that thirteen-year-olds who wet their bed and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) get poorer grades and leave secondary school without a diploma more often than adolescents with a physical condition such as diabetes or asthma. The researchers have published their findings in BMC Public Health.

“We expected the association to be stronger, that health and school performance would be more strongly linked,” says NIVEL programme leader Robert Verheij. “But it turned out this is only true for psychological problems. Now that we know this, general practitioners and teachers can be more alert."
Awareness of the link
“We weren’t able to determine exactly what is the cause and what is the effect,” Verheij explains. “Maybe young people with poorer grades have more psychological problems, or maybe it’s the other way round. Either way, it’s important that both general practitioners and teachers are aware they're related.”
To conduct this research, routine electronic health record data from NIVEL Primary Care Database were linked with the national education register, through Statistics Netherlands (CBS). Researchers were able to follow secondary school careers of 2,455 adolescents over the course of several years, and to link this to their health status. The study also took the parents’ socioeconomic position into account. The data used in the study were anonymised so they could not be traced back to individuals.
NIVEL Primary Care Database
The NIVEL Primary Care Database makes use of routine electronic health record data recorded in primary care, including more than 500 general practices (as of early 2015) covering almost 10% of the Dutch population (1.7 million individuals).
Cooperating partners