School Professionals' Knowledge and Beliefs about Youth with Chronic Illness

Grant Winners

  • Carolyn Berger Ph.D. – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Cynthia Fletcher, Ph.D. – College of Nursing
  • Jessica Valenzuela, Ph.D. – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Joanna Tsikis, B.S. – Center for Psychological Studies

Deans

  • Karen Grosby, Ed.D. – Center for Psychological Studies
  • Marcella Rutherford, Ph.D., MBA, MSN – College of Nursing

Abstract

Award Winners

Researchers have found that chronic illnesses affect between 10-20% of children and adolescents (Thompson & Gustafson, 1996). Since Broward County and Palm Beach County report 437,520 enrolled students (see http://www.browardschools.com and http://www.palmbeachschools.org), it can be inferred that approximately 43,750-87,500 students in these two counties alone are likely to have a chronic illness. Students with chronic illnesses are at higher risk for school failure and have lower odds of graduating from high school (Maslow, Haydon, Ford, &Halpern, 2011; Taras & Potts-Datema, 2005). Therefore, it is critical for school professionals to be prepared to serve the academic needs of students with chronic illness. The literature reveals gaps in the ability of teachers to meet the challenges and demands of students with chronic illnesses (Brook & Galili, 2001; Nabors, Little, Akin-Little, & Lobst, 2008). The research team developed a questionnaire that is based on these studies and other literature to assess the knowledge and beliefs of Broward and Palm Beach County school professionals regarding working with students with chronic illness. The questionnaire is primarily quantitative in design, with three open-ended questions to assess school professionals' perspectives on professional development needs and challenges they face in schools. Descriptive statistics will be used to analyze school professionals' responses to questions and comparisons across types of school professional will be conducted using ANOVA. The qualitative components of the questionnaire will be examined via thematic analysis. The research team will present these findings to an advisory board to further analyze the questionnaire results. This board will also assist in determining the next steps that need to be taken to improve school professionals' abilities to meet the educational needs of students with chronic illness. If these students' academic needs are met they will be more likely to graduate from high school and have successful, balanced lives.