Nevin Manimala Statistics

Psychological characteristics and emotional difficulties underlying school refusal in adolescents using functional near-infrared spectroscopy

BMC Psychiatry. 2023 Dec 1;23(1):898. doi: 10.1186/s12888-023-05291-w.


BACKGROUND: This study aims to explore the psychological characteristics, related emotional problems and potential NIR brain function mechanism of adolescents who refuse to attend school.

METHODS: The study included 38 adolescents (12-18 years old) who were not attending school and 35 healthy controls (12-18 years old) who are attending school regularly. Participants completed (1) general demographics, (2) Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ), (3) Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS), (4) Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS), and (5) Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90). In addition to the clinical tests, participants completed functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). Mental health, personality, and emotional state were evaluated in both groups to explore the differences and to understand the underlying mechanisms of school refusal during adolescence.

RESULTS: Adolescents who did not attend school had higher neuroticism scores on the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire than healthy controls (p(FDR) < 0.001), introversion and concealment scores were lower than those of healthy controls (p(FDR) < 0.001), there was no significant difference in psychoticism scores between groups. SDS, SAS, SCL-90 scores and factor scores were higher than those of healthy control group (p(FDR) < 0.001), NIR functional brain imaging was different from healthy control group in the 12 and 27 channels (p(FDR) = 0.030, p(FDR) = 0.018), and no difference was found in the remaining channels (p(FDR) > 0.05). There were statistically significant differences in age and gender between the adolescents who refused school and the control group (p(FDR) < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: School refusal adolescents are relatively introverted and sensitive and need more attention in daily life. Although the adolescents’ emotional problems did not reach the diagnostic criteria of depressive disorder and anxiety disorder, their scores were still higher than those of the control group, suggesting that we should pay more attention to their emotional problems in order to better help them return to school. Using fNIRS, it was found that abnormalities in frontal lobe regions in adolescents with school refusal behaviors, which would contribute to early diagnosis and timely intervention of school refusal behaviors.

PMID:38041012 | DOI:10.1186/s12888-023-05291-w

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