Preschool inattention and conduct problems linked to reduced exam scores

New research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry has used data from the University of Bristol Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) to investigate whether preschool hyperactivity/inattention and conduct problems are independently associated with academic outcomes at age 16.

Adverse effects were apparent in both boys and girls (n = 11,640). For boys, hyperactivity/inattention scores were associated with reductions of 10 GCSE points, and borderline and abnormal conduct problem scores were associated with reductions of 9–10 and 12–15 points respectively. For girls, early conduct problems rather than hyperactivity/inattention were important, with reductions of 9 and 12 points for borderline and abnormal scores respectively.

The authors say that there is a strong argument for the early identification of behavioural problems, and that this needs to be linked to appropriate interventions to be effective. They also suggest that teachers should be aware of the long-term implications of early behavioural difficulties, particularly for children they might regard as being at risk, and to take parental concerns about behaviour problems seriously.

Source: Pre-school Hyperactivity/Attention Problems and Educational Outcomes in Adolescence: Prospective Longitudinal Study (2013), British Journal of Psychiatry.

Mindfulness programme shows promise

A study of the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) has shown that it reduces depressive symptoms, lowers stress, and increases well-being in teenagers.

The MiSP programme is a complex intervention that includes elements for young people who are stressed and experiencing mental health difficulties, for those in the normal range of mental health, and for those who are flourishing. It consists of nine lessons given weekly. A non-randomised controlled feasibility study matched six secondary schools teaching the MiSP programme with similar schools. Pupils aged 12-16 took part in the programme and were tested before the intervention, after the intervention (two months later), and at follow-up (three months later). After the intervention, there was strong evidence of lower depression scores for those receiving the MiSP programme. At follow-up, there was evidence of increased well-being, lower stress, and lower depression scores.

The authors say that the next step should be a randomised control trial, with longer follow-ups, to examine key processes and outcomes, and pay close attention to generalisability.

Source: Effectiveness of the Mindfulness in Schools Programme: Non-randomised Controlled Feasibility Study (2013), The British Journal of Psychiatry.