26 Feb

PhD Defence Esther Karen Pijl

Supervisors: Prof. dr. F. J. M. Feron†, Prof. dr. A. E. de Rijk, Prof. dr. J. J. P. Mathijssen

Co-supervisor: Dr. Y. T. M. Vanneste

Keywords: Sickness Absence, Child and Youth Healthcare, Primary school pupils, Medical Advice Sick-reported Students

"Development and evaluation of the 'Medical Advice for Sick-reported Students - Primary School' (MASS-PS) intervention"

This thesis contains research into sickness absence among primary school pupils. Attending school is crucial for children’s development and future health. While most pupils are only reported sick once or twice in a school year, this research found that 13-23% of pupils in regular primary schools had 'extensive sickness absence’: missing more than nine school days or being reported sick more than four times in a school year. In secondary and vocational education school professionals and child and youth healthcare physicians already collaborate to address sickness absence and support sick-reported students and their parents with the intervention ‘Medical Advice for Sick reported Students’ (MASS). In this thesis, MASS for primary schools (MASS-PS) was developed and evaluated as a collaboration between school professionals, child and youth healthcare physicians, school attendance officers, and parents. Attendance coordinators in primary schools noticed that MASS PS helped them to identify pupils that would otherwise have been overlooked and they reported improvements in the pupils’ well-being. Moreover, a positive effect was found on the number of days of absenteeism of pupils with extensive sickness absenteeism. The research also showed that the implementation of the intervention could be improved upon. All in all, MASS-PS is a promising intervention to address sickness absence among pupils in primary education.

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