The perceptions of different professionals on school absenteeism and the role of school health care: A focus group study conducted in Finland

Katja Melander, Tiina Kortteisto, Elina Hermanson, Riittakerttu Kaltiala, Katariina Mäki-Kokkila, Minna Kaila, Silja Kosola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose of the study: School absenteeism and school dropout jeopardize the future health and wellbeing of students. Reports on the participation of school health care in absenteeism reduction are infrequent, although physical and mental health problems are the most common causes of school absenteeism. Our aim was to explore what reasons different professionals working in schools recognize for absenteeism and which factors either promote or inhibit the inclusion of school health care in absenteeism reduction. Materials and methods: Data for this qualitative study was gathered from ten focus groups conducted in two municipalities in southern Finland. The groups included (vice) principals, special education/ resource/subject teachers, guidance counselors, school social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, school doctors, and social workers working in child protective services. Data analysis was predominantly inductive but the categorization of our results was based on existing literature. Results: Study participants identified student-, family-, and school-related reasons for absenteeism but societal reasons went unmentioned. A number of reasons promoting the inclusion of school health care in absenteeism reduction arose, such as expertise in health-related issues and the confidentiality associated with health care. Inclusion of school health care was hindered by differences in work culture and differing perceptions regarding the aims of school health care. Conclusion Professionals working in schools were knowledgeable about the different causes of school absenteeism. Clarifying both the aims of school health care and the work culture of different professionals could facilitate the inclusion of school health care in absenteeism reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0264259
JournalPlosOne
Volume17
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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