A Mixed Methods Feasibility Study Exploring the Impact of Introducing Mindfulness to Adolescents Referred for Anxiety Based School Refusal

  • Tara Shine

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The term “school refusal” is used to describe a small group of students who do not attend school for underlying emotional reasons. Left unaddressed school refusal can lead to serious problems such as emotional distress, academic decline and isolation from peers. Effective intervention is thus required to prevent further long-term consequences and develop the young person’s capacity to cope and progress effectively. This thesis explores the impact of introducing students referred for anxiety based school refusal (ABSR) to mindfulness, and the ways in which this may support their emotional well-being.

Part 1 is a literature review, which critically examines research in the areas of school refusal and mindfulness. A more focused systematic review is then conducted to evaluate the use of mindfulness with adolescents experiencing emotional distress, identifying four studies for inclusion. The majority of the studies report positive outcomes but the strength of their design varied. Overall the studies provide limited but promising evidence for the benefits of mindfulness to improve some aspects of adolescents’ well-being. From this review research questions are presented.

Part 2 is a mixed methods feasibility study exploring the effects and experience of introducing students referred for ABSR to mindfulness. It begins by presenting the research hypothesis and design, methodology and finally the procedure. The quantitative and qualitative findings are then reported. Combining both sets of findings, and relevant literature, develops an overall discussion with an examination of the research hypothesis in light of the results obtained. The section ends with a discussion of the implication of the findings.

Part 3 provides a critical appraisal of the research. It considers the methodological limitations as well as the as well as the implications for future research and educational psychology in practice. The final part includes the author’s personal reflections regarding the research process. References are presented in Part 4 and the Appendices are contained in Part 5.
Date of AwardDec 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorJoe Duffy (Supervisor)

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