The association between depression and later educational attainment in children and adolescents: A systematic review protocol

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Introduction Depression represents a major public health concern for children and adolescents, and is thought to negatively impact subsequent educational attainment. However, the extent to which depression and educational attainment are directly associated, and whether other factors play a role, is uncertain. Therefore, we aim to systematically review the literature to provide an up-to-date estimate on the strength of this association, and to summarise potential mediators and moderators on the pathway between the two.

Methods and analysis To identify relevant studies, we will systematically search Embase, PsycINFO, PubMed, Education Resources Information Centre and British Education Index, manually search reference lists and contact experts in the field. Studies will be included if they investigate and report on the association between major depression diagnosis or depressive symptoms in children and adolescents aged 4–18 years (exposure) and later educational attainment (outcome). Two independent reviewers will screen titles, abstracts and full texts according to eligibility criteria, perform data extraction and assess study quality according to a modified version of the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale. If sufficiently homogeneous studies are identified, summary effect estimates will be pooled in meta-analysis, with further tests for study heterogeneity, publication bias and the effects of moderators using meta-regression.

Ethics and dissemination Because this review will make use of already published data, ethical approval will not be sought. The review will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, presented at practitioner-facing conferences, and a lay summary will be written for non-scientific audiences such as parents, young people and teachers. The work will inform upcoming investigations on the association between child and adolescent mental health and educational attainment.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere031595
Pages (from-to)1-6
JournalBMJ Open
Early online date14 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2019


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