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The effects of school nurses on absenteeism in elementary schools compared to absenteeism in schools without school nursing

1 August 2002

Abstract

Background School nursing is a specialty branch of nursing with history dating back into the 1900s. An important reason for having a school nurse present on the school grounds is to decrease absenteeism. A primary objective for these nurses is to intervene to keep children healthy and consistently in school in order to maintain a low absenteeism rate. This study was performed in order to determine the effectiveness of the presence of school nurses and the impact they have on elementary school-aged absenteeism. The idea of having school nurses present in order to decrease absenteeism has not been researched thoroughly, therefore, this study attempted to demonstrate in more depth that children in an elementary school with a nurse has lower absenteeism rates compared to elementary schools without a school nurse.

Methods All students from Jeannette-Myhre and Centenniel Elementary School were studied. There were no exclusion or inclusion criteria. The latter school did not have a school nurse, while Jeannette-Myhre was the school studied with a nurse. A retrospective school record review over the 2001-2002 school year was obtained for absenteeism rates. A survey was also utilized in order to obtain the parental perception of a school nurse.

Results Overall, 484 students from Centenniel and 465 students from Jeannette-Myhre were involved. Data analysis using statistical testing was not accomplished due to not having access to raw data. Average attendance results from both schools indicated better attendance percentages at Centenniel School compared to Jeannette-Myhre School. The significance of these results indicates that school nursing may not have much of an impact on absenteeism. Survey results of parental perceptions of school nursing indicated that Centeill1iel School parents were not as willing to except a school nurse, whereas Jeam1ette-Myhre School parents felt it was a mandatory and useful position to have a school nurse available at their school.

Conclusion The results of this study indicate that having access to a school nurse in an elementary setting does not decrease absenteeism. It is important to note parental bias may have been present when answering questions about their perception of a school nurse. With this bias, the survey results may have been swayed slightly.


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