How adolescent health influences education and employment: investigating longitudinal associations and mechanisms

Daniel R. Hale, Russell M. Viner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
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Background Education is recognised as a strong determinant of health. Yet there is increasing concern that health in adolescence may also influence educational attainments and future life chances. We examined associations between health in early adolescence and subsequent academic and employment outcomes, exploring potential mediators of these relationships to inform intervention strategies.

Methods We used data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England. Adolescent health was measured at waves 1 and 2. Outcomes included educational attainment at age 16 years and being NEET (not in education, employment or training) at age 19 years. Associations were adjusted for ethnicity, area-level deprivation and early adolescent academic attainment. Where significant associations were identified, we examined the role of hypothesised mediators including attendance and truancy, classroom behaviour, substance use and psychological distress.

Results Health conditions in early adolescence predicted poor subsequent education and employment outcomes (ORs ranged from 1.25 to 1.72) with the exception of long-term chronic conditions and NEET status, which were unassociated. The most consistent mediating variable was social exclusion. School behaviour, truancy and substance use were significant mediators for mental health. Long-term absences mediated associations between mental health and physical health and later outcomes.

Conclusions Health is a key component of academic and vocational achievement. Investment in health is a way of improving life chances. The identification of key mediators such as social exclusion and truancy indicate areas where screening for health conditions and provision of targeted support could improve educational, employment and health outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)465-470
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Issue number6
Early online date3 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


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