Risk factors for mental disorder among university students in Australia: findings from a web-based cross-sectional survey
- 2.9k Downloads
To identify variables associated with common mental disorders in an Australian university population.
We invited all Australia-based students from a large public university (N = 24,209) to participate in a web-based student mental health survey. Outcome measures included the patient health questionnaire depression, anxiety, and eating disorders modules, and the alcohol use disorders identification test. Explanatory variables of interest included gender, age, year of study, degree type, financial means, parental education, domestic/international status, and sexual orientation. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to estimate independent associations with the four outcomes.
Complete responses were received from 6,044 students (25 %). Proportions reporting depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and harmful drinking were 8, 13, 14, and 8 %, respectively, while 30 % had at least one of these disorders. The groups with the highest rates of disorder were women, 25–34-year-olds, students on low income, and homosexual or bisexual students. Parental education was not associated with disorder, nor was international/domestic status.
This is the first study examining mental disorders in a population-based sample of university students in Australia. Given increasing student numbers and participation of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, policy is urgently needed to promote better mental health in this population, to routinely identify vulnerable students, and to intervene early. Groups in particular need are women, students on low incomes, and homosexual or bisexual students.
KeywordsUniversity Students Mental health Depression Alcohol Disorder
David Said received a small grant from the School of Psychology, University of Newcastle to conduct this study. Kypros Kypri is funded via a National Health & Medical Research Council Career Development Award.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.
The protocol for the research project has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee the University of Newcastle, approval no: H-2009-0366. The research has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki. All subjects provided informed consent prior to their inclusion in the study and participant anonymity has been preserved.
- 1.Begg S, Vos T, Barker B, Stevenson C, Stanley L, Lopez A (2007) The burden of disease and injury in Australia, 2003. AIHW 2007. Cat. no. PHE 82. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, CanberraGoogle Scholar
- 2.ABS (2008) National survey of mental health and wellbeing: summary of results, 2007. ABS 2008. Cat. no. 4326.0. ABS, CanberraGoogle Scholar
- 22.Andrews A, Chong JLY (2011) Exploring the wellbeing of students studying at an Australian university. J Aust N Z Stud Serv Assoc 37:9–39Google Scholar
- 25.Bradley DB, Noonan P, Nugent H, Scales B (2008) Australian government review of higher education: final report. DEEWR, CanberraGoogle Scholar
- 30.American Psychiatric Association (2000) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edn, text revision. American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- 38.Maclennan B, Kypri K, Langley J, Room R (2012) Non-response bias in a community survey of drinking, alcohol-related experiences and public opinion on alcohol policy. Drug Alcohol Depend. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22677457. Accessed 6 June 2012
- 44.Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations (2010) Table 2.1. All students by age group and broad level of course, full year 2010. Statistical Publications. http://www.deewr.gov.au/HigherEducation/Publications/HEStatistics/Publications/Pages/2010StudentFullYear.aspx. Accessed 28 July 2012
- 45.Hallett J, Howat PM, Maycock BR, McManus A, Kypri K, Dhaliwal SS (2012) Undergraduate student drinking and related harms at an Australian university: web-based survey of a large random sample. BMC Public Health 12(37). http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/37. Accessed 6 June 2012
- 47.Moreira MT, Smith LA, Foxcroft D (2009) Social norms interventions to reduce alcohol misuse in university or college students. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, issue 3, Art. No.: CD006748. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD006748.pub2
- 50.University of Melbourne, Orygen Youth Health Research Centre (2011) Guidelines for tertiary education institutions. http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/nationalsummit/links.html. Accessed 28 July 2012