Journal of Public Health

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 103–112 | Cite as

Association of alcohol use with problematic mobile phone use and depressive symptoms among college students in Anhui, China

  • Shuman Tao
  • Xiaoyan Wu
  • Shichen Zhang
  • Shilu Tong
  • Jiahu HaoEmail author
  • Fangbiao TaoEmail author
Original Article



Problematic mobile phone use (PMPU) is defined as an inability to regulate one’s use of the mobile phone, including excessive use, gradual increase in use to get the gratification, interference with school and other personal activities, and the need to avoid emotional alterations when mobile phone use is impeded. The potential health risks of PMPU have attracted increasing research attention. This study investigated the proportion of PMPU and the interactive effect of PMPU and depressive symptoms with alcohol use among college students in Anhui Province, China.

Subjects and methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted among 2,376 college students between May and June 2012. PMPU, depressive symptoms and alcohol use were measured by self-reported validated instruments. Multivariable logistic regression models were used to examine the independent and interactive effects of PMPU and depressive symptoms with alcohol use.


Results revealed the proportion of PMPU was 27.9 %, while the prevalence of depressive symptoms and alcohol use was 18.9 and 37.5 %, respectively. PMPU was significantly associated with alcohol use independently (OR = 1.30, 95 % CI = 1.04–1.61), and there was no significant increase with alcohol use in students with depressive symptoms (OR = 1.18, 95 % CI = 0.93–1.50). There was a multiplicative interaction between PMPU and depressive symptoms with alcohol use (OR = 1.46, 95 % CI = 1.04–2.03).


We conclude that there is a significant relationship between PMPU and alcohol use, and a significant multiplicative interactive effect of PMPU and depressive symptoms with alcohol use among college students, in Anhui, China. These findings may have important implications for designing and implementing mental health programs at universities.


Mobile phone Depressive symptoms Alcohol use Interactive effect 



The authors appreciate all the students and teachers involved in the study for their important contributions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Funding sources

This research was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant number 30972494).

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Ethics Committee of Anhui Medical University and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of interest

Each author declares that he/she has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, School of Public HealthAnhui Medical UniversityHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Anhui Provincial Key Laboratory of Population Health and AristogenicsHefeiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.School of Public Health and Social WorkQueensland University of TechnologyKelvin GroveAustralia

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