Impact of negative life events on positive health in a population of adolescents with special needs, and protective factors

Vol VIII, No. 1, 2008 Comments (0)

Celeste SIMÕES, Margarida GASPAR DE MATOS, Gina TOMÉ, & Mafalda FERREIRA
Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Portugal

Aim. The aim of the present work is the analysis of factors associated to positive health and well being, in a population of adolescents with special needs (ASN) facing adverse environmental situations
Methodology.The sample included 494 adolescents with special needs (ASN), mean age 14 years old. Pupils attended 77 public schools from all over Portugal. Data collection was held within the HBSC (Health Behaviour in School aged Children) survey (Currie et al, 2004; Matos et al, 2006). For the purpose of this specific study, the questionnaire included questions about quality of life, internal and external resources and life events.
Results. Results showed that adolescents with special needs (ASN) had a set of internal resources (personal and social competences and self-concept) and a set of external resources (family, peers, school and local community). Those are protective factors regarding their well being, when they face stressful environmental situations. However when adolescents face several different negative life events, only Family and Self-concept have a significant protective effect.
Family and self-concept seem thus the most important factors for the positive development of adolescents with special needs (ASN), when they face multiple negative environmental events.
Thus, when designing and implementing school-based intervention programs, it is important to include both individual mental health support and family support, as a way to help adolescents with special needs (ASN) to face daily challenges and negative life events.

Keywords: positive health, special needs, negative life events, resilience; family, self-concept, adolescents


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