School-based Participation in Drama and Other Extracurricular Activities as a Protective Factor Against Depression in Adolescents Open Access

Hazra, Erica Sangita (2016)

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Adolescence is a period of biological, cognitive, and emotional development that can be stressful. Depression is a key indicator of maladaptation and has significant public health consequences. Seventy percent of respondents to the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) reported participating in at least one school-based extracurricular activity, which have potential to facilitate youth development. Participation in drama, in particular, has been shown to increase self-confidence, enhance self-expression, and improve social skills among mostly marginalized youth. Evidence suggests that benefit in these three areas may benefit mood and depressive symptoms.

The goal of this thesis is to evaluate whether participating in drama had a protective effect on depression among adolescents in the U.S., using Add Health data. The research hypotheses were that there would be lower odds of incident depression at Wave II among those who, at Wave I, participated in 1) drama only than among those who did not participate in any clubs at all; 2) any club than among those who did not participate in any clubs; 3) drama only than among those who participated in one non-drama club; 4) two or more clubs than those who participated in only one club; and 5) two or more clubs, including drama, than those who participated in two or more non-drama clubs.

After controlling for sex, age, race, and family income, logistic regression found that club/drama participation during Wave I had no significant effect on incident depression in Wave II. While the model demonstrated a good fit for the data (Hosmer-Lemeshow χ2df=8=9.596, p-value = 0.2945) and was statistically significant overall ( χ2df=16=38.79, p-value = 0.0012), there were no statistically significant differences among the different participation categories and odds of developing depression. Therefore, none of the hypotheses can be supported.

There is a preponderance of research on sports participation and its effects on depression and other positive health outcomes. It is important that adolescents who don't have a proclivity for sports have opportunity to participate in suitable activities that offer similar benefits. Further research would help policy makers and school administrators determine whether investment in drama is justified and sufficient.

Table of Contents


Adolescent Participation in Drama and Other Extracurricular Activities 6

Hypotheses 10


Sample and Procedure 11

Measures 13

Dependent Variable 13

Independent Variable 14

Covariates 14

Statistical Analyses 15


Preliminary Analyses 17


Strengths and Limitations 22

Future Directions 23



Table 1. Depressive Symptoms Scale Construction 30

Table 2: Univariate Descriptive Statistics on Add Health Subjects With No Depression in Wave I for Club/Drama Participation and Covariates 31

Table 3. Relationships between Club/Drama Participation and Covariates Among Those with No Depression in Wave I 32

Table 4. Odd Ratios (95%CI) for Incidence of Depression in Wave II with 'No participation in any club' as Referent Group 33

Table 5. Odd Ratios (95%CI) for Incidence of Depression in Wave II with 'Participation in one non-drama club' as Referent Group 34

Table 6. Odd Ratios (95%CI) for Incidence of Depression in Wave II with 'Participation in multiple non-drama clubs' as Referent Group 35


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