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Open Access Study protocol

The early identification of risk factors on the pathway to school dropout in the SIODO study: a sequential mixed-methods study

Marie-José Theunissen12*, Ilse Griensven van1, Petra Verdonk3, Frans Feron1 and Hans Bosma1

Author Affiliations

1 CAPHRI, Department of Social Medicine, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

2 GGD Brabant Zuidoost, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

3 EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Department of Medical Humanities, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:1033  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1033

Published: 27 November 2012

Abstract

Background

School dropout is a persisting problem with major socioeconomic consequences. Although poor health probably contributes to pathways leading to school dropout and health is likely negatively affected by dropout, these issues are relatively absent on the public health agenda. This emphasises the importance of integrative research aimed at identifying children at risk for school dropout at an early stage, discovering how socioeconomic status and gender affect health-related pathways that lead to dropout and developing a prevention tool that can be used in public health services for youth.

Methods/design

The SIODO study is a sequential mixed-methods study. A case–control study will be conducted among 18 to 24 year olds in the south of the Netherlands (n = 580). Data are currently being collected from compulsory education departments at municipalities (dropout data), regional public health services (developmental data from birth onwards) and an additional questionnaire has been sent to participants (e.g. personality data). Advanced analyses, including cluster and factor analyses, will be used to identify children at risk at an early stage. Using the quantitative data, we have planned individual interviews with participants and focus groups with important stakeholders such as parents, teachers and public health professionals. A thematic content analysis will be used to analyse the qualitative data.

Discussion

The SIODO study will use a life-course perspective, the ICF-CY model to group the determinants and a mixed-methods design. In this respect, the SIODO study is innovative because it both broadens and deepens the study of health-related determinants of school dropout. It examines how these determinants contribute to socioeconomic and gender differences in health and contributes to the development of a tool that can be used in public health practice to tackle the problem of school dropout at its roots.

Keywords:
School dropout; Risk profiles; Pathway; Symptoms; Life course; ICF model; Socioeconomic status; Gender; Public health; Social exclusion