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Social and emotional training in Swedish classrooms for the promotion of mental health: Results from an effectiveness study in Sweden


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Mental ill-health is a major problem worldwide. It includes depression, aggressive behavior, feeling down and alcohol and drug abuse. Since all children go to school, the school is an obvious arena for health interventions. A set of educational techniques named Social and Emotional Learning, based on the use by teachers of cognitive and behavioral methods, which teaches students self-control, social competence, empathy, motivation and self-awareness, has shown promising results in the USA. This paper reports on the application of similar techniques in Sweden (the Social and Emotional Training [SET] program). The study has a quasi-experimental longitudinal design, with two intervention and two control schools. A wide range of instruments, both Swedish and international, are employed. In this paper, results from the school years 1999-2000 (baseline) through to 2001-2002 are reported. Both the intervention and the data collection were performed by ordinary school staff in a routine school setting. Independent bi-annual ratings of teachers' performance were moderate to high, and teachers' perceptions of the program were generally, although by no means universally, high. However, their performance was poorer with regard to the collection of data. In terms of promotion, findings with regard to the impact of the program on mental health are generally favorable-in particular through the promotion of aspects of self-image, including well-being and the hindering of aggressiveness, bullying, attention-seeking and alcohol use. There was, however, no differential effect on social skills. It seems that SET has the potential to operate effectively as a health-promoting intervention during the school period, although its main impact may rather be to act as a brake on the deterioration in some aspects of mental health that is common during adolescence. Positively significant relationships were found on some but not all of the instrument scales, and effect sizes were medium.
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Health Education Research
First published online 18 Aug 2008; Health Educ. Res.
Birgitta Kimber, Rolf Sandell and Sven Bremberg
study of 5 years of intervention
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Social and emotional training in Swedish schools for
the promotion of mental health: an effectiveness
study of 5 years of intervention
Birgitta Kimber
*, Rolf Sandell
and Sven Bremberg
The school is an obvious arena for interventions
designed to promote mental health among chil-
dren. A set of educational techniques named
social and emotional learning, which focuses
on students’ self-control, social competence,
empathy, motivation and self-awareness, has
shown promising results in the United States.
This is a study of the application of a similar
method in Sweden (referred to as social and
emotional training) for school years 2000/2001
through to 2004/2005. It is an effectiveness
rather than an efficacy study, largely adminis-
tered by school personnel, which relates dura-
tion of the training (1–5 years) to a set of
outcomes previously found to be associated with
mental health. Positive and significant effects
were found on ve of seven variables: internal-
izing problems, externalizing problems, mas-
tery (reflecting self-efficacy or hopelessness),
self-image and self-esteem and contentment in
school. Effect sizes were medium. Somewhat
surprisingly, no relationship was found between
the intervention and the promotion of social
skills. Nor was there any detectable long-term
impact on bullying. Controlling for student gen-
der did not moderate any of the effects.
According to the World Health Organization, men-
tal ill health is—alongside cardiovascular disease—
one of the two most important public health prob-
lems worldwide. Among people aged 1–44 years,
mental ill-health, which includes depression, ag-
gressive behaviour, feeling down and alcohol and
drug misuse, is the greatest health problem in high-
income countries. Internalizing problems, such as
anxiety and depression, have been shown to impose
a greater burden on mental health than externalizing
problems [1].
It is hard to predict who will develop mental
disorders among the young, and this has implica-
tions for effective health promotion [2]. Since
nearly all children go to school, the school is an
obvious arena for health-promoting activities. A
set of educational techniques, social emotional
learning (SEL), based on the use by teachers of
cognitive and behavioural methods, which con-
cerns students’ self-control, social competence,
empathy, motivation and self-awareness, has shown
promising results [3–8]. As a mechanism, it may be
worth linking the SEL approach to the increasingly
used concept of ‘mentalization’, which, inter alia,
stresses sense of agency, social reciprocity, self-
regulation of affects, toleration of frustration, goal
setting and capacity to symbolize [9].
Meta-analyses, e.g. that of Greenberg et al. [7],
suggest that there are some shortcomings to school-
based intervention programmes and studies in this
field. Only a few include a broad range of school
grades, although it has been claimed that ‘short-term
preventive interventions produce time-limited bene-
fits, at best, with at-risk groups whereas multi-year
Department of Public Health Sciences, Division of Social
Medicine, Karolinska Institute, SE-17177 Stockholm,
Sweden and
Department of Behavioral Sciences, Linko
University, SE-581 83 Linko
ping, Sweden
*Correspondence to: B. Kimber. E-mail: b.kimber@telia.
Ó The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
For permissions, please email:
Pages 10
Health Education Research Advance Access published August 18, 2008
programs are more likely to foster enduring bene-
fits’ (p. 32). Further, most studies report on efficacy
trials, undertaken with a research team in charge,
rather than effectiveness trials in a community set-
ting [10, 11]. Historically, externalizing problems
have received greater attention, but the literature is
rapidly growing on the prevention of internalizing
problems [12–16].
This study of a Swedish programme (the SET
programme, standing for social and emotional train-
ing) attempts to address these three issues. First it
considers the impact of the duration of SET (i.e. over
a number of years). Second, it is an effectiveness
rather than an efficacy study, since the programme
has been implemented by school personnel in a real-
life setting. Third, it includes internalizing mental
health aspects as well as externalizing ones.
A longitudinal study [17] considered the effects
of SET on students of all grades (junior and senior)
during the first 2 years of programme implementa-
tion. SET was found to promote mental health and
reduce detrimental health-related behaviours in
some respects, in particular through the promotion
of aspects of students’ self-image, including well-
being and a reduction in externalizing problems and
alcohol use. It was concluded that SET has the
potential to operate effectively as a preventive
intervention during the school period.
The aim of this second study of the programme,
based on 5 years of data collection, is to explore the
longer term impact of SET on various aspects of the
mental health and health-related behaviours of
senior school students (Grades 5–9 at time of mea-
surement). Drug and alcohol use will be considered
in a separate paper. Specifically, the current study
relates duration of SET to a variety of outcome
Population and sample
In Sweden, children begin compulsory school at
age 7 in Grade 1 and end at age 16 in Grade 9.
The intervention and the study were carried out in
Botkyrka Municipality in the Stockholm metropol-
itan area. In Botkyrka, there are eight schools cov-
ering all grades (junior and senior). Classes in two
of these eight schools were chosen as intervention
classes, with their students constituting the SET
group. For comparative purposes, a school of sim-
ilar size serving a socio-economically similar pop-
ulation was selected for each SET school, with
students in corresponding classes constituting the
No-SET group. Baseline measurements, accompa-
nied by covariate analysis, were employed to ensure
reasonable comparability between the groups [17].
The current study covers only the intervention par-
ticipants and controls who attended the classes in
these four schools during the first year of pro-
gramme implementation. The students responded
to a questionnaire in May each year during the first
5 years of the programme, with measurements
taken during school years 2000/2001 to 2004/
2005, designated as t1tot5. The Ethics Committee
of the Swedish Research Council approved the
study. All but two parents of the students in the
SET schools gave their consent to participation in
the study. There were no such cases in the No-SET
The intervention
The SET programme, which was designed by the
first author [18, 19], was delivered by regular class
teachers during scheduled school hours. The teach-
ers supplied SET to students in Grades 4–5 twice
a week, each session with a duration of 45 min, and
gave students in Grades 6–9 one 45-min session
a week over the total school year. The programme
was guided by detailed manuals for the teachers,
one volume for each grade, and also included
a workbook for students of each grade.
SET covers the following ve areas: self-awareness,
managing one’s emotions, empathy, motivation
and social competence. Typically, these five com-
ponents merge into one another, and therefore an
exercise according to the manual may address sev-
eral functions. The intervention is described in
greater detail by Kimber et al. [17].
The teachers were trained in SET during the
school year 1999/2000. During this school year,
B. Kimber et al.
they had an opportunity to try out the relevant
exercises themselves and test them in their classes.
They were encouraged to raise methodological
and technical issues and discuss remaining prob-
lems. The teachers were supervised once a month
during the school year 2000/2001 and offered su-
pervision on a voluntary basis during 2001/2002.
In order to enhance programme integrity, the teach-
ers were observed and supervised individually at
least four times during the first 2 years of the in-
tervention. The views of teachers on the programme
were ascertained in a survey conducted 2 years
after programme start, which showed general,
albeit not universal, approval of its content and
implementation [20].
Study procedures and instruments
Assessments, by questionnaire, of a panel consist-
ing of all the students who remained in the classes
from outset of the SET programme, which started in
August of school year 2000/2001, were made in
May of each year, i.e. from 2001 (t1) until 2005
(t5). Questionnaires were administered to partici-
pants and controls during school hours by regular
class teachers. All the instruments employed are
well-established and have documented reliability
and validity.
‘Youth self-report (YSR)’ [21], used here in an
abbreviated Swedish version [22], measures mental
health symptoms and problems. There are 35 items,
which are split into two subscales, measuring in-
ternalizing problems and externalizing problems.
Internalizing problems include anxiety (feeling
worthless or inferior, feeling unhappy, sad or
depressed and feeling nervous or tense), while
externalizing problems encompass aggression
(threatening to hurt people or destroying property),
assertiveness (stubbornness, hot temper, etc.) and
attention-seeking (bragging, showing-off, clowning,
etc.). The items are rated on three-step scales: ‘Not
True’, ‘Somewhat or Sometimes True’, ‘Very True
or Often True’. Scale scores were means across
items, with higher scores indicating more problems.
‘Mastery’ [23], in one of its Swedish versions, is
a nine-item scale measuring feelings of self-efficacy
or hopelessness, defined as the extent to which one
regards one’s life chances as being under personal
control. Examples include ‘There is really no way
I can solve the problems I have’ and ‘I have little
control over the things that happen to me’. Items are
rated on four-step scales, ranging from ‘Strongly
agree’ to ‘Strongly disagree’. The scoring of some
of the items was inverted so that higher scores in-
dicate stronger sense of self-efficacy.
‘I think I am’ (ITIA) is a Swedish self-rating in-
strument, ‘Jag tycker jag a¨r’ [24], with roots in
American research [25]. It is designed to assess
the young person’s self-image and self-esteem
and has subscales for body image, family relations,
psychological well-being, relations with others and
talents/abilities. There are two versions of the in-
strument: ITIA-I for younger students (Grades 1–3)
and ITIA-II for older ones (Grades 4–9). Only find-
ings from ITIA-II are reported here. In ITIA-II,
there are 72 items, such as: ‘I have a nice face’,
‘I like myself’, ‘I am often sad’ and ‘My parents
trust me’. Students respond to each statement on
a four-point scale, from ‘Exactly like me’ to ‘Not
at all like me’. The items are scored 2 to 2, where
higher scores indicate a more positive self-image.
There are a number of subscales, but in this study
we only used the mean score across all items.
‘Contentment in school’, or school satisfaction,
by analogy with job satisfaction, refers to a single
item, ‘How do you like it in school?’, from a Swed-
ish health-behaviour questionnaire administered
annually by the Swedish Council for Information
on Alcohol and Other Drugs (CAN) [26]. Content-
ment was rated on a five-step response scale, rang-
ing from ‘Very good’ to ‘Very bad’. Scoring was
inverted so that higher scores indicate greater
‘Bullying’ is the mean of three items from the
CAN questionnaire [26]. The aspects considered
are being insulted, being physically assaulted and
‘being sent to Coventry’. A three-step response
scale was used: ‘Yes, often’, ‘Yes, sometimes’
and ‘No, seldom or never’. Higher scores indicate
fewer problems.
‘The Social Skills Rating System (SSRS)’ [27]
consists of 34 items for Grades 4–6 and 7 additional
Social and emotional training in Swedish schools
items for Grades 7–9, all with four-point response
scales, ‘Never’ (0), ‘Sometimes’ (1), ‘Often’ (2)
and ‘Very often’ (3). The ratings may be scored
on four subscales (assertion, empathy, cooperation
and self-control), but in this study the mean score
across all items was used. Higher mean scores in-
dicate greater social skills.
The instruments and scales and their reliabilities
and re-test correlations over the first 2 years of the
intervention are shown in Table I. It should be
noted that their intercorrelations were strong
enough to produce a general factor, accounting
for 49% of the total common variance before rota-
tion. Two more factors each accounted for >10% of
the variance. We concluded that the battery was
essentially multifactorial, with a general adjustment
factor (mastery, ITIA, SSRS, YSR internalization),
one school adjustment factor (school contentment,
bullying, SSRS) and one mental health factor (YSR
internalization, YSR externalization, bullying) after
rotation. The reliabilities of the mastery and bully-
ing scales were poor, probably due to the relatively
small number of items. Nevertheless, we decided to
use both scales for exploratory reasons.
Study design
For the current study, we employed a mixed design,
in which there is ‘a mixture of between-group and
repeated-measures variables’ [28] (p. 483) to com-
pare students in the SET and No-SET schools
according to duration of SET or No-SET (1–5
years), regardless of grade. Given a student’s grade
at t1, t2, t3, etc., we formed a variable for duration
of the SET programme (number of years). Thus, the
SET students in Grade 5 when the questionnaire
was administered at t1 had had 1 year of SET;
students in Grade 5 at t2 (Grade 4 at t1) had had
2 years of SET, students in Grade 5 at t3 (Grade 3
at t1) had had 3 years and so on. We were able to
secure a sizable number of observations (2455 in
total), for SET (1857) and No-SET (598), distrib-
uted across years. We then compared the mean
trajectories on each outcome measure between stu-
dents in the SET schools and the No-SET schools as
a function of the number of years that the pro-
gramme had been running.
Statistical analyses
Differences between the groups (SET and No-SET)
in their development from t1tot5 were tested in
three different ways. SPSS version 12 was used for
the statistical calculations.
(i) For each of the outcome variables, a linear re-
gression was performed for each student group,
which provides measures of the linear trends as
effects of the intervention. Thus, each outcome var-
iable was regressed on number of years (at t1, t2 .
t5) among the SET students and the No-SET stu-
dents separately. This permitted direct tests of the
trend-across-years differences between the groups,
Table I. Instruments and scales used, with reliabilities
(Cronbach’s a) for years 1 and 2 and re-test correlations
between year 1 and year 2 (Grades 4–9)
Instrument/scale Cronbach’s a Re-test
t1 (May
t2 (May
(t1, t2)
Internalizing 0.86 0.88 0.46
Externalizing 0.82 0.81 0.54
Total score 0.89 0.89 0.51
Mastery 0.52 0.59 0.45
Body image 0.80 0.77 0.46
Family relations 0.85 0.83 0.64
Psychological well-being 0.83 0.80 0.52
Relations with others 0.74 0.65 0.41
Talents/abilities 0.81 0.81 0.48
Total score 0.95 0.93 0.57
Contentment in school n.a. n.a. 0.44
Bullying 0.71 0.65 0.25
Social skills
Cooperation 0.76 0.75 0.53
Assertion 0.60 0.61 0.52
Empathy 0.79 0.76 0.48
Self-control 0.58 0.59 0.40
Total score 0.89 0.89 0.53
n.a.= not applicable; scale had only one item.
B. Kimber et al.
based on estimates of the mean change rates in the
groups provided by the unstandardized slope
parameters, bs. The standardized (z-transformed)
regression coefficients, bs, were taken as within-
conditions (or within-groups) effect-size estimates,
and the differences between the unstandardized re-
gression coefficients, bs, were tested according to
Cohen [29]: z=ðb1 b2Þ=½ðSE
(ii) Adopting Becker’s approach [30], between-
groups effect sizes were computed for each depen-
dent variable. A within-group d was first computed
for each intervention group by dividing the t5–t1
mean difference by the standard deviation at t1 and
then subtracting the d in the No-SET group from
that in the SET group. This gives a change effect
size parameter (Becker’s D). Cohen’s classification
of effect sizes (small = 0.2, medium = 0.5, large =
0.8) was employed [29].
(iii) Analyses of variance (ANOVAs) (or multi-
variate analyses of variance, MANOVAs, when we
analysed an instrument with subscales, such as the
YSR and the ITIA) were run on the outcome scale
(or subscales), with intervention or not (SET or
No-SET), number of years (t1, t2 . t5) and student
gender as independent variables. It was presumed
that there is no SET/No-SET by study years or
grade interaction, which assumes that duration of
SET acts independently of age of student. Although
the design was mixed, partly within subjects and
partly between subjects, duration (number of years)
was analysed as a between-subjects factor, which
introduced a conservative bias to the tests. Given
significantly different mean changes of the unstan-
dardized regression coefficients, the critical effect
was the intervention-by-years interaction. The gen-
eneralized linear modelling (GLM) routine of
SPSS, version 12, was used.
Since the study was based on the responses of a
panel, there was progressive sample attrition over
the years due to normal turnover. Also, there was
variable, temporary absence of students at time of
testing, which in some cases resulted in more respond-
ents in one year than the year before. See Table II.
Attrition can be determined by looking at the
diagonals in Table II. For example, at t1 (May
2001), there were 138 Grade 5 respondents out of
the 141 students in the SET classes that year (upper
left cell of Table II, upper part: Grade 5 at t1), while
Table II. Frequency distribution of respondents across grades and number of years (sample sizes in parentheses
Grade Time of assessment
t1 t2 t3 t4 t5
SET 5 138 (141) 61 (65) 76 (78) 41 (63) 53 (68)
6 111 (116) 136 (140) 51 (61) 61 (68) 59 (60)
7 87 (118) 91 (106) 112 (116) 48 (49) 42 (46)
8 106 (106) 67 (73) 65 (82) 75 (78) 48 (51)
9 82 (101) 72 (106) 59 (65) 72 (75) 44 (68)
No-SET 5 31 (46) 16 (28) 43 (46) 22 (43) 1 (18)
6 29 (35) 31 (33) 12 (25) 37 (39) 39 (43)
7 29 (32) 21 (32) 21 (30) 13 (25) 30 (32)
8 31 (31) 23 (31) 19 (21) 15 (28) 23 (25)
9 24 (35) 25 (31) 18 (21) 20 (21) 25 (28)
The table can be read across rows or along columns, in which cases the comparisons are between different student cohorts (between
subjects); reading along the upper left to lower right diagonals enables comparisons between students from the same classes over time
(within subjects), which show the rates of progressive panel mortality.
That is, both respondents and non-respondents in the classes under study.
Social and emotional training in Swedish schools
at t5 (May 2005), there were 44 respondents out of
68 (lower right cell: Grade 9 at t5); these were the
remaining original students (from Grade 5 at t1)
who had progressed to Grade 9. Overall, there
was gradual dropout of 15–19% each year in the
SET group. The overall response rate (rate of return
of fully filled-in questionnaires) for the SET group
was 88%, and for the No-SET group 77% (figures
not shown in Table II). Over the years, response
rates for SET ranged from 65 to 100% and for
No-SET from 51 to 100% (excluding a single case
where there was only one respondent, due to ad-
ministrative error). Response rates in the No-SET
group were more variable than in the SET group.
We needed to establish whether our results were
biased by selective sample attrition, i.e. whether
any apparent positive or negative effects of SET
might instead be attributable to differences in drop-
out between high-scoring and low-scoring students.
Improving mean scores along the diagonals (e.g.
from Grade 5 students at t1 to Grade 9 students at
t5, i.e. the same students minus dropouts) would
imply greater dropout of low-scoring students (neg-
ative attrition), and deteriorating scores greater
dropout of high-scoring students (positive attrition).
ANOVAs were conducted on five of the outcome
scales (YSR total, mastery, ITIA total, contentment
in school and social skills) for each of the seven
cohorts (diagonals) in the SET group. There were
significant changes on only seven of the 35 result-
ing tests. Of these, four were cases of negative at-
trition and three of positive attrition. We concluded
that attrition in the SET sample had not been biased
towards either low- or high-scoring students.
An overall picture of developments over the years is
given in Fig. 1. All relationships were in the expected
direction; that is, SET students consistently reported
more favourable outcomes over time than did No-
SET students. There was a time lag with regard to
some of the effects, and there were greater fluctuations
in effects according to duration in the No-SET group.
Regression coefficients and effect sizes by out-
come variable and group are shown in Table III. Of
the bs, differences between the two groups were
statistically significant on all but two (bullying
and social skills) of the seven outcome variables.
On the five significant variables (YSR internalizing,
YSR externalizing, mastery, ITIA total and content-
ment in school) effect sizes (D) were small to me-
dium on Cohen’s criteria [29]. It should be noted
that bs between 0.10 and 0.15 correspond to ds
between 0.20 and 0.31 and that D is the difference
between the ds of the two groups.
It should be recognized that the intercorrelations
among the variables and their sheer number may
have generated redundant or spurious significances.
A reasonable Bonferroni correction would accept
two-starred effects (P < 0.01) as significant only
at the P < 0.05 level.
To test the effects of the possible dependencies in
the data resulting from the complex design, partly
crossed, partly nested, we repeated the same anal-
yses, first, with classes and, finally, with schools as
units. These analyses yielded essentially very sim-
ilar estimates of the unstandardized regression coef-
ficients but substantially larger differences between
the standardized regression coefficients in the SET
and No-SET groups, in comparison with the origi-
nal analyses. We concluded that within-group de-
pendencies had not exaggerated the between-group
The results of the ANOVAs are displayed in
Table IV. These show the statistical significances
of the interactions between SET/No-SET and the
durations (1–5 years) in relation to the outcome var-
iables rather than the linear trends (in which there is
just one comparison for each variable). All but one of
the seven interactions were found to be statistically
significant, the exception being social skills. On the
YSR, there was a significant SET/No-SET-by-years
interaction. The interaction was significant on both
subscales, although with a stronger effect on inter-
nalizing than on externalizing problems.
The total ITIA score showed a univariately sig-
nificant SET/No-SET-by-years interaction, but
there was a clear differentiation between the groups
only at t5. It should be noted that there were signif-
icant univariate effects on three of the subscales, i.e.
body image, F (4, 2252) = 3.71, P = 0.005; relations
with others, F (4, 2252) = 3.33, P = 0.010 and
B. Kimber et al.
well-being, F (4, 2252) = 2.64, P = 0.032 (figures not
shown in Table IV). Student gender did not compli-
cate the two-way interaction on any of the scales.
Contentment in school also showed a significant
univariate SET/No-SET-by-years interaction, with
no further interaction with student gender.
Fig. 1. Relations between duration of SET/No-SET and the outcome variables, with raw scores on the vertical axes and number of years
on the horizontal axes.
Social and emotional training in Swedish schools
Although bullying had a small effect size, it
showed a highly significant SET/No-SET-by-years
interaction. This is explained by the fact that there
was a stable mean level over the years in the SET
group and a quite variable one in the No-SET
group, which ends up only slightly higher than
the SET group at t5. Student gender did not affect
developments in the two groups.
The social skills scale did not differentiate be-
tween the SET and No-SET groups. None of the
subscales even approached a significant SET/No-
SET-by-years interaction.
The impact of an SEL intervention in Sweden
(the SET training programme) showed generally
favourable results in the longer run, as shown by
the comparisons between the SET and No-SET
Relating duration of social emotional training to
various outcomes associated with mental health,
significant positive connections were found on five
out of the seven dependent variables considered:
YSR internalizing, YSR externalizing, mastery,
ITIA (total) and contentment in school. Effect sizes
were medium.
In the SET schools, bullying was at a continu-
ously low level, whereas in the No-SET schools,
the level varied strongly from year to year. Consid-
ering duration, it was found that there was no dif-
ference in trend between the SET and No-SET
groups. SET may offer a means of providing greater
continuity in this arena in that peak incidences in
the level of bullying are avoided.
SET students may have become more familiar
than their No-SET counterparts with the ‘vocabu-
lary’ of the SET questionnaire, and this reflected
itself in greater consistency of questionnaire
responses. The issue of what is artefactual and what
is not is of substantive importance; enhancing ca-
pacity to give names to feelings has for long been
regarded as a promoter of mental health [31].
The current study reveals significant duration
lags on some variables. It now appears that there
is a greater beneficial effect of SET on internaliz-
ing than externalizing problems, but this only
Table III. Regression coefficients and effect sizes for SET/No-SET by groups and outcome variables
Outcome variables SET No-SET D z
b d
b d
YSR, internalizing 0.14 0.37 0.05 0.19 0.56 4.02***
YSR, externalizing 0.13 0.37 0.03 0.05 0.42 2.16*
Mastery 0.11 0.42 0.00 0.06 0.36 2.42**
ITIA, total 0.11 0.44 0.03 0.10 0.54 2.74**
Contentment in school 0.06 0.19 0.11 0.41 0.60 3.57***
Bullying 0.03 0.11 0.02 0.24 0.35 0.72
Social skills, total 0.11 0.26 0.10 0.19 0.07 0.15
All figures in the table are adjusted to show positive values to indicate improvement and negative values to indicate deterioration. b =
standardized regression coefficient when the outcome variable is regressed on years (1–5). d
= (M year 1 – M year 5)/pooled SD. D =
in SET d
in No-SET. z
refers to the difference between the SET and No-SET bs.
*P < 0.05, **P < 0.01, ***P < 0.001 (one-tailed tests).
Table IV. F-tests of interactions between SET/No-SET and
number of years by outcome variable
Outcome variable Degrees of
YSR, internalizing 4, 2337 4.86 0.001
YSR, externalizing 4, 2337 2.50 0.041
Mastery 4, 2340 3.43 0.008
ITIA, total 4, 2253 3.48 0.008
Contentment in school 4, 2312 4.77 0.001
Bullying 4, 2255 3.86 0.004
Social skills, total 4, 2356 0.71 0.588
B. Kimber et al.
emerged after 3–4 years. In the case of mastery
(which, inter alia, measures depressive feelings),
3 years of SET seem to have been needed before
the programme had a detectable impact and in the
case of the ITIA (which measures self-image and
self-esteem) 4 years. It seems that SET, as a form
of health promotion, requires a long time of regu-
lar systematic implementation to be effective. This
is in line with earlier studies [7]. It should be re-
emphasized that in a real-life effectiveness study,
beneficial outcomes may take longer to appear or
Social skills is a remarkable exception to the rest
[27]. Maybe, as suggested by Durlak and Wells in
their review [6], SEL programmes have a greater
impact on emotional than on social skills.
Although the repeated-measures analyses were
cross-sectional, the sample on which these analyses
were performed was subject to attrition. Obviously,
some SET participants and controls did not respond
>5 years or even >2 years. We have, however,
shown that the differential outcomes between the
SET and No-SET groups cannot be explained away
by selective attrition within the SET group, i.e. that
students with poorer mental health were less likely
to respond over longer periods. Also, we know that
some positively scoring students moved to a new
school (a so-called ‘free’ school, with higher aca-
demic ambitions) when it opened in the vicinity of
the SET schools. Although there was also some
movement from the No-SET schools, which were
further away, the recruitment differential might
mean that the recorded positive effects of SET were
There are some issues with reference to appli-
cations for practitioners. If SET has a positive
value, should it be a regular part of the school
curriculum? If so, how much training of the teach-
ers is needed and how much parental involvement
is necessary?
The study revealed some clear positive effects of
SET on mental health. Continued analysis of the
SET programme is ongoing with regard to drug,
alcohol, volative-substance use (sniffing) and
smoking outcomes and to issues of implementation
and attitudes of the SET teachers.
Funding for the research was provided through
grant 2001–1072 from the Swedish Council for
Social Research (SFR) and grant 2003–2785 from
the Swedish Council for Working Life and Social
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... This intervention program was a school-based SET mental health program for Swedish school children (Kimber et al., 2008). The SET program was primarily focused on mental health, but also targeted other aspects of participants' lives, such as bullying. ...
... Similar to perpetration outcomes, 14 evaluations used age cohort designs to evaluate the effect of antibullying programs on bullying victimization outcomes. ; Romania (i.e., Trip et al., 2015); Sweden (i.e., Kimber et al., 2008); Switzerland (Alsaker & Valkanover, 2001); South Africa (Meyer & Lesch, 2000); ...
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Executive Summary/Abstract Background Bullying first emerged as an important topic of research in the 1980s in Norway (Olweus), and a recent meta‐analysis shows that these forms of aggression remain prevalent among young people globally (Modecki et al.). Prominent researchers in the field have defined bullying as any aggressive behavior that incorporates three key elements, namely: (1) an intention to harm, (2) repetitive in nature, and (3) a clear power imbalance between perpetrator and victim (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Farrington). There are many negative outcomes associated with bullying perpetration, such as: suicidal ideation (Holt et al.), weapon carrying (Valdebenito et al.), drug use (Ttofi et al.), and violence and offending in later life (Ttofi et al.). Bullying victimization too is associated with negative outcomes such as: suicidal ideation (Holt et al.), anxiety, low self‐esteem and loneliness (Hawker& Boulton). Therefore, school bullying is an important target for effective intervention, and should be considered a matter of public health concern. Objectives The objective of this review is to establish whether or not existing school‐based antibullying programs are effective in reducing school‐bullyng behaviors. This report also updates a previous meta‐analysis conducted by Farrington and Ttofi. This earlier review found that antibullying programs are effective in reducing bullying perpetration and victimization and a primary objective of the current report is to update the earlier analysis of 53 evaluations by conducting new searches for evaluations conducted and published since 2009. Search Methods Systematic searches were conducted using Boolean combinations of the following keywords: bully*; victim*; bully‐victim; school; intervention; prevention; program*; evaluation; effect*; and anti‐bullying. Searches were conducted on several online databases including, Web of Science, PscyhINFO, EMBASE, EMBASE, DARE, ERIC, Google Scholar, and Scopus. Databases of unpublished reports, such as masters' and doctoral theses (e.g., Proquest) were also searched. Selection Criteria Results from systematic searches were screened thoroughly against the following inclusion criteria. To be included in this review, a study must have: (1) described an evaluation of a school‐based antibullying program implemented with school‐age participants; (2) utilized an operational definition of school‐bullying that coincides with existing definitions; (3) measured school‐bullying perpetration and/or victimization using quantitative measures, such as, self‐, peer‐, or teacher‐report questionnaires; and (4) used an experimental or quasi‐experimental design, with one group receiving the intervention and another not receiving the intervention. Data Collection and Analysis Of the 19,877 search results, 474 were retained for further screening. The majority of these were excluded, and after multiple waves of screening, 100 evaluations were included in our meta‐analysis. A total of 103 independent effect sizes were estimated and each effect size was corrected for the impact of including clusters in evaluation designs. Included evaluations were conducted using both randomized (n = 45; i.e., randomized controlled trials/RCTs) and nonrandomized (n = 44; i.e., quasi‐experimental designs with before/after measures; BA/EC) methodologies. All of these studies included measures of bullying outcomes before and after implementation of an intervention. The remaining 14 effect sizes were estimated from evaluations that used age cohort designs. Two models of meta‐analysis are used to report results in our report. All mean effects computed are presented using both the multivariance adjustment model (MVA) and random effects model (RE). The MVA model assigns weights to primary studies in direct proportion to study level sampling error as with the fixed effects model but adjusts the meta‐analytic standard error and confidence intervals for study heterogeneity. The RE model incorporates between‐study heterogeneity into the formula for assigning weights to primary studies. The differences and strengths/limitations of both approaches are discussed in the context of the present data. Results Our meta‐analysis identified that bullying programs significantly reduce bullying perpetration (RE: odds ratio [OR] = 1.309; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.24–1.38; z = 9.88; p < .001) and bullying victimization (RE: OR = 1.244; 95% CI: 1.19–1.31; z = 8.92; p < .001), under a random effects model of meta‐analysis. Mean effects were similar across both models of meta‐analysis for bullying perpetration (i.e., MVA: OR = 1,324; 95% CI: 1.27–1.38; z = 13.4; p < .001) and bullying victimization (i.e., MVA: OR = 1.248; 95% CI: 1.21–1.29; z = 12.06; p < .001). Under both computational models, primary studies were more effective in reducing bullying perpetration than victimization overall. Effect sizes varied across studies, with significant heterogeneity between studies for both bullying perpetration (Q = 323.392; df = 85; p < .001; I² = 73.716) and bullying victimization (Q = 387.255; df = 87; p < .001; I² = 77.534) outcomes. Analyses suggest that publication bias is unlikely. Between‐study heterogeneity was expected, given the large number of studies included, and thus, the number of different programs, methods, measures and samples used. Authors' Conclusions We conclude that overall, school‐based antibullying programs are effective in reducing bullying perpetration and bullying victimization, although effect sizes are modest. The impact of evaluation methodology on effect size appears to be weak and does not adequately explain the significant heterogeneity between primary studies. Moreover, the issue of the under‐/over‐estimation of the true treatment effect by different experimental designs and use of self‐reported measures is reviewed. The potential explanations for this are discussed, along with recommendations for future primary evaluations. Avenues for future research are discussed, including the need further explain differences across programs by correlating individual effect sizes with varying program components and varying methodological elements available across these 100 evaluations. Initial findings in the variability of effect sizes across different methodological moderators provide some understanding on the issue of heterogeneity, but future analyses based on further moderator variables are needed.
... These skills help students to be more active in the classroom environment and participate more in educational activities, which, in turn, increase academic achievement (Eisenberg et al., 2010;Rhoades et al., 2011). Moreover, considering the proposition that the main goal of social-emotional learning skills-based programs is to increase the quality of life and well-being of individuals Kimber et al., 2008), we can say that social-emotional learning skills can increase students' positive affect and therefore their happiness. On the other hand, social-emotional learning skills-based programs are effective in preventing situations that may negatively affect students' educational life. ...
Full-text available
This study was conducted to test whether social-emotional learning skills are a significant predictor of academic achievement and happiness in middle school students. A total of three different data collection tools were used in the study: A Personal Information Form, The Social-Emotional Learning Skills Scale, and The Adolescent Happiness Scale. The study was carried out with 337 middle school students from six different middle schools in Erzurum province. Of these students, 203 (60.2%) were female, and 134 (39.8%) were male. The ages of these students varied between 10 and 14, and the mean age was 12.07 (Sd = 0.93). Descriptive statistics, correlation analysis, and hierarchical regression analysis were employed in the analysis of the data. The findings obtained as a result of the study indicated that there were positive and significant correlations between social-emotional learning skills and academic achievement and happiness. In addition, social-emotional learning skills were a significant predictor of academic achievement and happiness in middle school students. Accordingly, social-emotional learning skills explained 18% of the total variance in academic achievement and 44% of the variance in happiness in middle school students. When all these results are evaluated together, it can be said that promoting the social-emotional learning skills of middle school students will increase academic achievement and happiness.
... Kunnskapsoversikten viste videre at sjansene for gode resultater, på laererog elevnivå, øker når utvikling og implementering av tiltak for bedre utnyttelse av ulike profesjoner i skolen har en tydelig involvert ledelse, at tiltakene inneholder elementer av systematikk, opplaering og veiledning, at roller og ansvar er tydelig avklart, at tiltakene er knyttet til klasseromspraksis og at intervensjonene er av universell karakter (Borg m.fl., 2014). Universelle intervensjoner hadde også størst potensial for langvarige effekter, mens resultater av spesifikke tiltak ofte var større, men hadde en tendens til å falme etter endt intervensjon (Ertesvåg & Vaaland, 2007;Kimber, Sandell & Bremberg, 2008). ...
... Evidence about the benefits of SEL on gender issues is still insufficient. Some findings are related to teenage pregnancy prevention, the impact of programs by gender, recognition of different needs of boys and girls, and the ratio of participants by gender [17,18]. ...
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Gender inequalities still affect the health and well-being of young people worldwide. Given the apprehensions among government and educators in a conservative context like Panama to implement comprehensive sexual education, there is a need for other educational efforts to stimulate healthy and respectful intimate relationships between adolescents. This article examines to what extent a newly developed Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) program, Me and My New World, provides a context in which students can learn to recognize and manage emotions, to care about others and themselves, make responsible decisions, develop social awareness. The program could additionally facilitate behavioral changes of young people towards more gender equality. Specifically, we focused on equal gender roles, equal rights in relationships and nonviolent problem solving, and present the qualitative effect evaluation among adolescents in Panama. The findings suggest that SEL-based lessons might broaden views on how young people experience the process of exploring identity formation, how assumptions of inequalities can be recreated through the lessons, and that SEL can emphasize the significance of choice and decision-making in interpersonal relationships. The perspectives, needs, and limitations highlighted by the adolescents living in a conservative context are highly valuable for improving future learning strategies for the development of healthier relationships.
This study aims to explore the factors influencing the implementation of the social-emotional learning pilot program Me and My new World, which emphasizes enhancing personal capacities toward equal personal relationships and behaviors of adolescents in Panama. Since the effect assessment of the program showed improved personal capacities of adolescents that might positively influence their personal relationships and well-being, a deeper understanding of the conditions and factors experienced during the implementation is necessary. To this end, qualitative methods were used for data collection: 6 in- depth interviews were carried out with teachers and parents, and 48 students participated in 12 focus group discussions. The study sought to examine completeness and fidelity, as well as exploring possible enhancing and impeding factors during a future diffusion process. The results revealed that the program was highly accepted by students, teachers, and parents. Enhancing factors of the implementation were innovation and local needs, adaptability of lessons and acceptability of the program. Barriers appeared to be the lack of time for lessons during regular curriculum, cultural transferability and organizational setting. The findings are important for improving development and implementation of social-emotional learning programs, especially oriented towards equal personal relationships and better decision making of adolescents.
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Purpose of Review The purpose of this review was to investigate and synthesize psychosocial outcomes from pharmacotherapy experimental trials for weight loss among adolescents with obesity. Recent Findings There is a paucity of research regarding pharmacological interventions for adolescents with obesity. These studies have typically reported reductions in weight, and side effects have been inconsistently described. Overall, medication seems to be a safe and effective obesity treatment modality for adolescents with obesity. Summary Six articles were included in this review. Studies varied in medication type, medication dosing, lifestyle components, psychosocial measures, measurement intervals, and psychosocial outcomes. All studies found a reduction in weight and/or BMI. Studies were often underpowered to detect differences in psychosocial variables, which were always considered secondary or exploratory outcomes. Future research should include psychosocial outcomes as a primary endpoint of pharmacological interventions for adolescent obesity. Ultimately, the treatment of the complex disease of obesity deserves to be assessed through multiple health domains extending beyond weight reduction.
Previous research has shown that many school-based anti-bullying programs are effective. A prior meta-analysis (Gaffney, Ttofi, & Farrington, 2019) found that intervention programs are effective in reducing school-bullying perpetration by approximately 19–20% and school-bullying victimization by approximately 15–16%. Using data from this prior meta-analysis, the aim of the current study was to examine the relationship between effectiveness estimates and specific elements of anti-bullying programs. Specific intervention components in line with a socio-ecological framework were coded as present or absent. Components were coded on the following levels: school, classroom, teacher, parent, peer, individual, and intervention. Meta-analytical subgroup comparisons analogous to ANOVA were computed to examine the relationship between the presence of specific components and the effectiveness in reducing bullying perpetration (n = 82) and victimization (n = 86). Results indicated that the presence of a number of intervention components (e.g., whole-school approach, anti-bullying policies, classroom rules, information for parents, informal peer involvement, and work with victims) were significantly associated with larger effect sizes for school-bullying perpetration outcomes. The presence of informal peer involvement and information for parents were associated with larger effect sizes for school-bullying victimization outcomes. Meta-regression analyses showed no significant relationship between effectiveness and the number of intervention components included in a program. The present report contributes to the understanding of 'what works' in reducing school-bullying perpetration and victimization. The impact of these findings on future anti-bullying research is discussed.
To examine whether a public health project to reduce problem behavior in schools and improve the classroom climate, undertaken among eight secondary schools in a municipality in Sweden, was accompanied by favorable changes in the school environment over time. Data were collected from ninth grade students (aged 15–16 years) at three different time points: the year before the project began (2005), during the project (2008) and when the project finished (2011). Changes in the school environment, measured as damage, littering, noise and classroom disorder, were compared between the project municipality and a comparison group of other municipalities in the same county, using multinomial logistic regression analysis. Descriptive comparisons were made between the schools within the project municipality. The school environment improved significantly from 2005 to 2011 in the project municipality compared with the other municipalities. The school environment was improved in all schools within the project municipality. The biggest improvements took place in two schools which systematically worked with one program incorporated into the school schedule. This study demonstrates that it may be possible to improve the school environment by implementing health programs. Further studies based on experimental designs are required in order to confirm the potential and efficiency of school health programs.
The main objective of this Campbell systematic review is to assess the available research evidence on the effect of self‐control improvement programs on self‐control and delinquency and problem behaviors. In addition to investigating the overall effect of early selfcontrol improvement programs, this review will examine, to the extent possible, the context in which these programs may be most successful. This review includes 34 randomized controlled studies covering a total of 4,386 children, aged from to 10 years. Of these, 31 studies are from the USA, 2 are from Canada and 1 is from Israel. The review covers a time span of 33 years (1975–2008). The studies included in this systematic review indicate that self‐control improvement programs are an effective intervention for improving self‐control and reducing delinquency and problem behaviors, and that the effect of these programs appears to be rather robust across various weighting procedures, and across context, outcome source, and based on both published and unpublished data. Considering these results, future efforts should be made to examine the effectiveness of self‐control improvement programs over time and across different segments of the life‐course (e.g., midadolescence, young adulthood etc.), and conduct rigorous cost‐benefit analysis on programs such as these. Executive Summary/Abstract BACKGROUND Self‐control improvement programs are intended to serve many purposes, most notably improving self‐control. Yet, interventions such as these often aim to reduce delinquency and problem behaviors. However, there is currently no summary statement available regarding whether or not these programs are effective in improving self‐control and reducing delinquency and problem behaviors. OBJECTIVES The main objective of this review is to assess the available research evidence on the effect of self‐control improvement programs on self‐control and delinquency and problem behaviors. In addition to investigating the overall effect of early self‐control improvement programs, this review will examine, to the extent possible, the context in which these programs may be most successful. SEARCH STRATEGY Several strategies were used to perform an exhaustive search for literature fitting the eligibility criteria: (1) A keyword search was conducted across a number of online abstract databases; (2) The reference lists of previous reviews of early childhood prevention/intervention programs in general and self‐control improvement programs specifically were consulted; (3) Hand searches were carried out on leading journals in the field; (4) The publications of research and professional agencies were searched; and (5) Recognized scholars (experts) in various disciplines who were knowledgeable in the specific area of self‐control improvement programs were contacted. SELECTION CRITERIA Studies that investigated the effect of early self‐control improvement programs on improving self‐control, and/or reducing delinquency and problem behaviors were included. Studies were only included if they had a randomized controlled evaluation design that provided post‐test measures of self‐control and/or delinquency and problem behaviors among experimental and control subjects. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS Narrative findings are reported for the 34 studies included in this review. A meta‐analysis of all 34 of these studies was carried out. The means and standard deviations were predominantly used to measure the effect size. Results are reported for the unbiased effect sizes and the weighted effect sizes and, where possible, comparisons across outcome sources (parent‐reports, teacher‐reports, direct‐observer reports, self‐reports, and clinical reports). Bivariate and multivariate analyses (using Lipsey & Wilson's SPSS macros) are performed in an effort to determine potential moderators and predictors of the effect sizes, respectively. MAIN RESULTS The studies included in this systematic review indicate that self‐control improvement programs are an effective intervention for improving self‐control and reducing delinquency and problem behaviors, and that the effect of these programs appears to be rather robust across various weighting procedures, and across context, outcome source, and based on both published and unpublished data. AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS We conclude that self‐control improvement programs should continue to be used to improve self‐control and reduce delinquency and behavior problems up to age 10, which is the age cutoff where Gottfredson and Hirschi argue that self‐control becomes relatively fixed and no longer malleable. Considering these results, future efforts should be made to examine the effectiveness of self‐control improvement programs over time and across different segments of the life‐course (e.g., mid‐adolescence, young adulthood etc.), and conduct rigorous cost‐benefit analysis on programs such as these.
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This meta-analysis investigated the normative development of domain-specific self-evaluations (also referred to as self-concept or domain-specific self-esteem) by synthesizing the available longitudinal data on mean-level change. Eight domains of self-evaluations were assessed: academic abilities, athletic abilities, physical appearance, morality, romantic relationships, social acceptance, mathematics, and verbal abilities. Analyses were based on data from 143 independent samples which included 112,204 participants. As the effect size measure, we used the standardized mean change d per year. The mean age associated with effect sizes ranged from 5 to 28 years. Overall, developmental trajectories of self-evaluations were positive in the domains of academic abilities, social acceptance, and romantic relationships. In contrast, self-evaluations showed negative developmental trajectories in the domains of morality, mathematics, and verbal abilities. Little mean-level change was observed for self-evaluations of physical appearance and athletic abilities. Moderator analyses were conducted for the full set of samples and for the subset of samples between ages 10 and 16 years. The moderator analyses indicated that the pattern of findings held across demographic characteristics of the samples, including gender and birth cohort. The meta-analytic dataset consisted largely of Western and White/European samples, pointing to the need of conducting more research with Non-Western and ethnically diverse samples. The meta-analytic findings suggest that the notion that self-evaluations generally show a substantial decline in the transition from early to middle childhood should be revised. Also, the findings did not support the notion that self-evaluations reach a critical low point in many domains in early adolescence.
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This article summarizes a much lengthier one that appeared in Prevention and Treatment. The earlier article grew out of a project initiated by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The Positive Youth Development Evaluation project described why policy makers, practitioners, and prevention scientists advocated a shift in approach for how youth issues are addressed in this country. The Positive Youth Development Evaluation project sought to define how youth development programs have been defined in the literature and then to locate, through a structured search, strong evaluations of these programs and summarize the outcomes of these evaluations. In the current article, we explain why prevention has shifted from a single problem focus to a focus on factors that affect both positive and problem youth development, describe what is meant by positive youth development, and summarize what we know about the effectiveness of positive youth development programs.
Basic Concepts in Prevention. Prevention of Behavioral and Social Problems. Prevention of Learning Problems. Drug Prevention. Programs to Improve Physical Health. Injury Prevention. Child Maltreatment. Is Prevention Cost-Effective/ Importance of Policy. Current Status and Future Directions. Appendix A: Characteristics of Effective Skill Training Programs. Appendix B: Helpful Resources on Prevention. Indexes.
This article summarizes a much lengthier one that appeared in Prevention and Treatment. The earlier article grew out of a project initiated by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. The Positive Youth Development Evaluation project described why policy makers, practitioners, and prevention scientists advocated a shift in approach for how youth issues are addressed in this country. The Positive Youth Development Evaluation project sought to define how youth development programs have been defined in the literature and then to locate, through a structured search, strong evaluations of these programs and summarize the outcomes of these evaluations. In the current article, we explain why prevention has shifted from a single problem focus to a focus on factors that affect both positive and problem youth development, describe what is meant by positive youth development, and summarize what we know about the effectiveness of positive youth develop...
Presents an approach for the meta-analysis of data from pretest–posttest designs. With this approach, data from studies using different designs may be compared directly and studies without control groups do not need to be omitted. The approach is based on a standardized mean-change measure, computed for each sample within a study, and it involves analysis of the standardized mean changes and differences in the standardized mean changes. Analyses are illustrated using results of studies of the effectiveness of mental practice on motor-skill development (e.g., D. Feltz and D. M. Landers [see PA, Vol 71:325]). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Describes a new cognitive approach designed to help preschool and kindergarten children with social adjustment problems through the development of problem-solving skills. A training program utilizing this approach is described in which games and dialogues between adults and children are used to teach word concepts and to develop cognitive skills. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)