Gender differences in the relationship between school problems, school class context and psychological distress: results from the Young-HUNT 3 study


Few studies have examined the relationship between shared school classroom environment and psychological distress. The aim of this study is to investigate whether there are gender differences in the clustering of psychological distress within school classes as well as to assess individual and contextual effects of school problems.

Data were obtained from the Young-HUNT 3 study (2006–2008), a population study of adolescents attending school in the Norwegian county of Nord-Trøndelag. A total of 6,379 pupils were analysed using multilevel models.

The results suggest that the amount of variation in psychological distress attributable to school class context was higher among girls (4.5 %) compared to boys (1.0 %). Furthermore, individual school problems were associated with psychological distress for both genders, although the effects were greater for girls. The effects of school class variables were limited for both genders, although gender composition was associated with higher levels of psychological distress among girls.

This study suggests that researchers should account for possible gender differences when examining the association between classroom environment and psychological distress.