Who's a Frequent Flyer? The Relation Between Student Anxiety and Missing Instruction in the Elementary School Years
Frequent flyers are students who make repeated, unplanned visits to the school nurse, mostly presenting with somatic symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, and musculoskeletal pain. Somatic symptoms are characteristic of pediatric anxiety symptoms and disorders, but the relation between anxiety symptoms and frequent flyer status never has been systematically examined. This study employs data corresponding to 209 students in the 4th and 5th grade (Mage = 9.51, 43.5% girls, 50.9% 51.2% Caucasian, 23.9% Hispanic/Latino) to examine the relation between students' visits to the school nurse (frequent flyer status) and anxiety, including possible variations by children's socio-demographic characteristics, including sex and race/ethnicity. Findings showed statistically significant relations between anxiety and an increased number of nurse visits. A relation between anxiety and sex leading to increased nurse visits was not statistically significant. The statistical model testing race/ethnicity and anxiety in relation to increased nurse visits was found to be significant but driven solely by anxiety. Implications for this study include reframing how frequent flyers are viewed by teachers and addressing possible anxiety in these students.