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Martial arts as a mental health intervention for children? Evidence from the ECLS-K

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9 pages
Martial arts studios for children market their services as providing mental health outcomes such as self-esteem, self-confidence, concentration, and self-discipline. It appears that many parents enroll their children in martial arts in hopes of obtaining such outcomes. The current study used the data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten class of 1998-1999, to assess the effects of martial arts upon such outcomes as rated by classroom teachers. Methods The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study used a multistage probability sampling design to gather a sample representative of U.S. children attending kindergarten beginning 1998. We made use of data collected in the kindergarten, 3 rd grade, and 5 th grade years. Classroom behavior was measured by a rating scale completed by teachers; participation in martial arts was assessed as part of a parent interview. The four possible combinations of participation and nonparticipation in martial arts at time 1 and time 2 for each analysis were coded into three dichotomous variables; the set of three variables constituted the measure of participation studied through regression. Multiple regression was used to estimate the association between martial arts participation and change in classroom behavior from one measurement occasion to the next. The change from kindergarten to third grade was studied as a function of martial arts participation, and the analysis was replicated studying behavior change from third grade to fifth grade. Cohen's f 2 effect sizes were derived from these regressions. Results The martial arts variable failed to show a statistically significant effect on behavior, in either of the regression analyses; in fact, the f 2 effect size for martial arts was 0.000 for both analyses. The 95% confidence intervals for regression coefficients for martial arts variables have upper and lower bounds that are all close to zero. The analyses not only fail to reject the null hypothesis, but also render unlikely a population effect size that differs greatly from zero. Conclusion The data from the ECLS-K fail to support enrolling children in martial arts to improve mental health outcomes as measured by classroom teachers.
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Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health
BioMedCentral
Open Access Research Martial arts as a mental health intervention for children? Evidence from the ECLSK 1,2 3 Joseph M Strayhorn*and Jillian C Strayhorn
1 2 Address: DrexelUniversity College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, 2900 W. Queen Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19129, USA,University of 3 Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, 3811 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA and3263 Seasons Drive, Wexford, Pennsylvania 15090, USA Email: Joseph M Strayhorn*  joestrayhorn@gmail.com; Jillian C Strayhorn  jillianstrayhorn@gmail.com * Corresponding author
Published: 14 October 2009Received: 27 April 2009 Accepted: 14 October 2009 Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health2009,3:32 doi:10.1186/17532000332 This article is available from: http://www.capmh.com/content/3/1/32 © 2009 Strayhorn and Strayhorn; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Abstract Background:Martial arts studios for children market their services as providing mental health outcomes such as selfesteem, selfconfidence, concentration, and selfdiscipline. It appears that many parents enroll their children in martial arts in hopes of obtaining such outcomes. The current study used the data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten class of 19981999, to assess the effects of martial arts upon such outcomes as rated by classroom teachers. Methods:The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study used a multistage probability sampling design to gather a sample representative of U.S. children attending kindergarten beginning 1998. We made rd th use of data collected in the kindergarten, 3grade, and 5grade years. Classroom behavior was measured by a rating scale completed by teachers; participation in martial arts was assessed as part of a parent interview. The four possible combinations of participation and nonparticipation in martial arts at time 1 and time 2 for each analysis were coded into three dichotomous variables; the set of three variables constituted the measure of participation studied through regression. Multiple regression was used to estimate the association between martial arts participation and change in classroom behavior from one measurement occasion to the next. The change from kindergarten to third grade was studied as a function of martial arts participation, and the analysis 2 was replicated studying behavior change from third grade to fifth grade. Cohen's feffect sizes were derived from these regressions. Results:The martial arts variable failed to show a statistically significant effect on behavior, in 2 either of the regression analyses; in fact, the feffect size for martial arts was 0.000 for both analyses. The 95% confidence intervals for regression coefficients for martial arts variables have upper and lower bounds that are all close to zero. The analyses not only fail to reject the null hypothesis, but also render unlikely a population effect size that differs greatly from zero. Conclusion:The data from the ECLSK fail to support enrolling children in martial arts to improve mental health outcomes as measured by classroom teachers.
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