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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Extracurricular activity participation moderates impact of family and school factors on adolescents’ disruptive behavioural problems

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Corine M.E.F. Driessens
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

I have no conflict of interest, financial or other, with the publication of this manuscript by BMC Public Health.

Authors’ contribution

The work presented in this manuscript was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant RES 595-28-0001) for the Third Sector Research Centre (investigators: Dr. Pete Alcock & Dr. John Mohan). The work described in this manuscript was designed and carried out by Dr. Corine Driessens. The manuscript was drafted by Dr. Corine Driessens.

Authors’ information

The author is a Research Fellow working at the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Southampton (UK).



The prevalence of problem behaviours among British adolescents has increased in the past decades. Following Erikson’s psychosocial developmental theory and Bronfenbrenner’s developmental ecological model, it was hypothesized that youth problem behaviour is shaped in part by social environment. The aim of this project was to explore potential protective factors within the social environment of British youth’s for the presentation of disruptive behavioural problems.


This study used secondary data from the Longitudinal Study of Young People in England, a cohort study of secondary school students. These data were analysed with generalized estimation equations to take the correlation between the longitudinal observations into account. Three models were built. The first model determined the effect of family, school, and extracurricular setting on presentation of disruptive behavioural problems. The second model expanded the first model by assuming extracurricular activities as protective factors that moderated the interaction between family and school factors with disruptive behavioural problems. The third model described the effect of prior disruptive behaviour on current disruptive behaviour.


Associations were found between school factors, family factors, involvement in extracurricular activities and presence of disruptive behavioural problems. Results from the second generalized estimating equation (GEE) logistic regression models indicated that extracurricular activities buffered the impact of school and family factors on the presence of disruptive behavioural problems. For instance, participation in sports activities decreased the effect of bullying on psychological distress. Results from the third model indicated that prior acts of disruptive behaviour reinforced current disruptive behaviour.


This study supports Erikson’s psychosocial developmental theory and Bronfenbrenner’s developmental ecological model; social environment did influence the presence of disruptive behavioural problems for British adolescents. The potential of extracurricular activities to intervention strategies addressing disruptive behavioural problems of adolescents is discussed.
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