Association Between School Connectedness and Depression Among Left-Behind Children in Rural China
Methods: A cross-sectional study using convenient sampling was conducted. A total of 801 (54.2% girls; 14.3±1.0 years old) students were successfully recruited from one rural middle school in Chongqing. The Psychological Sense of School Membership Scale (PSSM) and the Children’s Depression Inventory (CDI) were administered by 674 left-behind children and 127 non-left-behind children during school time. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to test the relationship between school connectedness and depression.
Results: The results of hierarchical linear regression analyses showed that 21.1% variance in depression was explained by school connectedness, when controlling for gender, school grade, and being left-behind or not. Lower level of school connectedness was associated with higher depression symptoms (β = -0.461, p < 0.001). Female children reported more depression than males (β = 0.083, p = 0.008). However, there was no significant difference in depression between left-behind children and non-left-behind children (p = 0.712).
Conclusions and significance: School connectedness was found significantly associated with depression among students, disregarding children being left-behind or not. This study provided empirical evidence for the necessity to enhance the school life quality of both left-behind children and non-left behind children to protect them from depression.
Key words: school connectedness, depression, left-behind children, rural China