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Title: A mixed methods feasibility study exploring the impact of introducing mindfulness to adolescents referred for anxiety based school refusal
Author: Shine, Tara J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 6448
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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'School refusal’ is a psychosocial problem characterised by a student’s difficulty attending school over an extended period of time. Left unaddressed, school refusal can lead to serious problems such as emotional distress, academic decline and isolation from peers. Effective intervention is thus required to support psychological well-being and prevent future negative consequences. Mindfulness is one intervention approach that is progressively being used in school settings to enhance well-being, reduce stress and improve coping for students, including those with social and emotional difficulties. A systematic review, carried out as part of this study, provides tentative yet encouraging evidence for the potential effectiveness of mindfulness interventions for adolescents experiencing internalising difficulties, showing improvements in a range of psychological outcomes. However, outcomes are yet to be established for students experiencing school refusal, thus providing a rationale for the current study. This study employed a mixed-method, sequential explanatory design with two phases, quantitative followed by qualitative. Eight 15 to 16 year-olds referred for anxiety-based school refusal (ABSR) participated in the 9-week '.b' mindfulness intervention. Quantitative findings post-intervention and at 5-month follow-up showed; significant reductions in emotional distress, as rated by parents and students, significant improvements in teachers' ratings of peer problems and significant increases in students' ratings of mindfulness. Increases in well-being were also apparent, yet this trend did not reach statistical significance and no significant changes in psychological flexibility were found. The qualitative phase involved semi-structured interviews, post-course and 5-month follow-up, with data analysed using Thematic Analysis. Findings suggested that students* experience of positive change, attributed to training in mindfulness, was facilitated by their experience of relaxation during ‘me time', their development of present moment awareness and their application of mindfulness in everyday activities, stressful situations and future challenges. Findings are compared to the wider literature regarding school refusal and mindfulness, and implications for future research and the practice of Educational Psychologists are considered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (DECAP) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available