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Research for better health and learning

Published: 29 January 2019

Through analyzes of more than 8,000 student health surveys and studies of student health talks, researchers at Luleå University of Technology want to gain knowledge about how children and young people feel in school and how this has changed over time. The research is part of the initiative Health School, which focuses on health-promoting work for the 51,000 children and young people aged 0–19 who live in Norrbotten.

– The pupils fill in the student health survey in grade four, seven and one in high school. This means that we can follow developments at individual level and over time. The analysis can provide information on what affects children's health and well-being in school. The results can then be used in the school's health-promoting work, says Mats Jakobsson, researcher and tacher in Sociology at Luleå University of Technology and Scientific Leader for social sustainability at Norrbotten's municipalities.

– By looking at data from schools with many students from socio-economically poor homes, how they feel, and how health develops, we also hope to gain knowledge about how the school can work to support these, says Mats Jakobsson.

An investment in which research and development go hand in hand

The Health School is supported by the Riksbankens Jubileumsfond and is implemented by Luleå University of Technology, Norrbotten's municipalities and Region Norrbotten. The venture recently celebrated a year during an anniversary that was held at Vetenskapens hus in Luleå. Pupils and staff from nine schools in Norrbotten who have carried out a development work to promote health, increase well-being and improve the learning environment in the schools was participating.

– In several of the schools, researchers have served as process support, which means that school staff get an influx of the research that is available, says Catrine Kostenius, Professor of Health Science at Luleå University of Technology.

She believes that there is no solution that suits everyone when it comes to health-promoting school development, and that it really is about a promotional approach that, among other things, answers the questions: Which school environment makes us feel good, thrives and learns? How can we all contribute to this? What are our strengths that we can further build on? How do we get everyone involved?

– Often when talking about health-promoting school development, you count on activities. For example, massage, yoga and rest activities. It is very important with activities that make you feel good, but for it to be a sustainable change, our research points to the importance of a health-promoting approach. The reason is to identify what works well and build on it, that everyone who is affected is involved, gets the conditions to succeed and that one is appreciated for who you are.

Participation is an important factor

Within the framework of the Health School, Catrine Kostenius has also conducted a study that is based on the student health conversation. In the study, students, teachers and school nurses have been told about their experience of the student health conversation. The research showed, among other things, that participation is important for well-being and well-being.

– One way of working with participation is to involve everyone in the health promotion work. Not only teachers and students, but also principals, school nurses and everyone else who works in the overall student health, rest hosts, cleaners – yes ALL adults at school from preschool to high school and also parents and school politicians, says Catrine Kostenius.

– At one of the schools, the sixth grade got a leadership program. Then the principal asked the students to present the school's health-promoting work for the school politicians. This is a good example of how to work with participation. It is desirable for adults to step aside at times and provide space for the students to take their place. It creates commitment and provides good conditions for sustainability, concludes Catrine Kostenius.

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Catrine Kostenius

Catrine Kostenius, Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 493288
Organisation: Nursing, Nursing and Medical Technology, Department of Health, Education and Technology
Mats Jakobsson

Mats Jakobsson, Senior Lecturer

Phone: +46 (0)920 492942
Organisation: Human Work Sciences, Humans and Technology, Department of Social Sciences, Technology and Arts