Investigating the use of mentoring in improving the health, educational outcomes and employability of young people

  • Heide Busse

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mentoring is commonplace in various settings and contexts yet its role in improving young people’s health, educational outcomes and employability is not well understood. Three separate studies were undertaken to examine the long-term outcomes of mentoring and to investigate formal mentoring programmes in the United Kingdom (UK).

To assess long-term outcomes of mentoring, I conducted secondary analysis on 10,140 participants of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health study. Having a natural mentor in adolescence was positively associated with having obtained a college degree (OR=1.34 [95%CI 1.06, 1.70], p=0.016) and self-rated health at age 24-34 (OR=1.25 [1.00, 1.56], p=0.048). No associations were found between mentoring and being employed (OR=1.23 [0.96, 1.57], p=0.10) or having depression in early adulthood (OR=0.95 [0.80, 1.12], p=0.52).

A qualitative interview study with programme managers (23) and experts (5) was conducted to explore formal mentoring programmes in the UK. Mentoring was conceptualised differently by participants and a typology was created differentiating twelve mentoring programme models. The development, delivery and maintenance of programmes was shaped by contextual influences at the individual-, interpersonal-, organisational-, community-, policy-, and societal-level.

A multiple descriptive case study was undertaken to examine the experiences of 11 young people who had a formal mentor, including the views of their parents and mentors. These were contrasted with the experiences of 10 young people without a mentor. Young people with a mentor reported substantial positive changes on health and educational outcomes which were not experienced by those without a mentor. However, the potential for harm was also indicated.

Mentoring can play a role in improving young people’s short- and long-term health and educational outcomes, yet potential harms should be considered. Uncertainty remains regarding employability outcomes. A full-scale randomised controlled trial can provide evidence about the effectiveness of formal mentoring programmes for these outcomes.
Date of Award23 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorFrank de Vocht (Supervisor), Ruth R Kipping (Supervisor) & Rona Campbell (Supervisor)

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