Psychological Distress in Iranian International Students at an Australian University

  • Shizar Nahidi
  • Ilse Blignault
  • Andrew Hayen
  • Husna Razee
Original Paper
  • 143 Downloads

Abstract

This study investigated psychological distress in Iranian international students at UNSW Australia, and explored the psychosocial factors associated with high levels of distress. A total of 180 Iranian international students pursuing undergraduate and postgraduate degrees during 2012/2013 completed an email questionnaire containing socio-demographic items and five standardized and validated scales. Multivariable logistic regression was used to analyse the predictors of psychological distress. Compared to domestic and international students at two other Australian universities, a significantly smaller proportion of Iranian international students scored as distressed on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K10). Greater levels of psychological distress were associated with being female, poorer physical health, less social support, less religious involvement and spirituality, and negative attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help. Findings from this growing group of international students can help inform culturally competent mental health promotion and service provision in their host countries.

Keyword

Mental health Psychological distress International students Iranian Australia 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to declare.

Ethical Approval

Ethics approval was obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee at UNSW Australia (HREC 10,397). All procedures involving human participants performed in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

References

  1. 1.
    Australian Government Department of Education and Training. International student data. Available from: https://internationaleducation.gov.au/research/International-Student-Data/Pages/default.aspx (2016). Accessed 20 Jan 2017.
  2. 2.
    Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Student visa program trends. Canberra: Department of Immigration and Citizenship. http://www.border.gov.au/about/reports-publications/research-statistics/statistics/study-in-australia (2016). Accessed 20 Jan 2017.
  3. 3.
    Esfandiari G. Iran: Coping with the world’s highest rate of brain drain. http://www.rferl.org/content/article/1051803.html (2004). Accessed 14 June 2016.
  4. 4.
    Axworthy M. Revolutionary Iran: a history of the Islamic republic. New York: Oxford University Press; 2013.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Mori S. Addressing the mental health concerns of international students. J Couns Dev. 2000;78(2):137–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Sherry M, Thomas P, Chui W. International students: a vulnerable student population. High Educ. 2010;60(1):33–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Rosenthal DA, Russell J, Thomson G. The health and wellbeing of international students at an Australian university. High Educ. 2008;55(1):51–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Khawaja NG, Dempsey J. A comparison of international and domestic tertiary students in Australia. Aust J Guid Couns. 2008;18(1):30–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Poyrazli S, Kavanaugh PR, Baker A, Al-Timimi N. Social support and demographic correlates of acculturative stress in international students. J Coll Couns. 2004;7(1):73–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kono K, Eskandarieh S, Obayashi Y, Arai A, Tamashiro H. Mental health and its associated variables among international students at a Japanese university: with special reference to their financial status. J Immigr Minor Health. 2015;17(6):1654–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Matud MP. Gender differences in stress and coping styles. Pers Individ Differ. 2004;37(7):1401–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Stallman HM. Psychological distress in university students: a comparison with general population data. Aust Psychol. 2010;45(4):249–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Nurullah AS. Gender differences in distress: The mediating influence of life stressors and psychological resources. Asian Soc Sci. 2010;6(5):27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Chai PPM, Krägeloh CU, Shepherd D, Billington R. Stress and quality of life in international and domestic university students: cultural differences in the use of religious coping. Ment Health Relig Cult. 2011;15(3):265–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Chang HW. Help-seeking for stressful events among Chinese college students in Taiwan: roles of gender, prior history of counseling, and help-seeking attitudes. J Coll Stud Dev. 2008;49(1):41–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Sheikh S, Furnham A. A cross-cultural study of mental health beliefs and attitudes towards seeking professional help. Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2000;35(7):326–34.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Trounson A. Sanctions impoverish students from Iran. The Australian. 2012 November 12, 2012.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bagheri A. Psychiatric problems among Iranian immigrants in Canada. Can J Psychiatry. 1992;37(1):7–11.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Khavarpour F, Rissel C. Mental health status of Iranian migrants in Sydney. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1997;31(6):828–34.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    International student data 2013 [Internet]. https://aei.gov.au/research/International-Student-Data/Pages/InternationalStudentData2013.aspx#Pivot_Table (2014). Accessed 14 June 2016.
  21. 21.
    Kessler RC, Andrews G, Colpe LJ, Hiripi E, Mroczek DK, Normand SLT, et al. Short screening scales to monitor population prevalences and trends in non-specific psychological distress. Psychol Med. 2002;32(6):959–76.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    The WHOQOL Group. Development of the World Health Organization WHOQOL-BREF quality of life assessment. Psychol Med. 1998;28(3):551–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Fischer EH, Farina A. Attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help: a shortened form and considerations for research. J Coll Stud Dev. 1995;36(4):368–73.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Zimet GD, Dahlem NW, Zimet SG, Farley GK. The multidimensional scale of perceived social support. J Pers Assess. 1988;52(1):30–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Koenig H, Parkerson GR, Meador KG. Religion index for psychiatric research. Am J Psychiat. 1997;154(6):885–6.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    McGraw KO, Wong SP. Forming inferences about some intraclass correlation coefficients. Psychol Methods. 1996;1(1):30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Clinical Research Unit for Anxiety and Depression (CCRUfAD). K10 scale Sydney: CRUfAD. http://www.crufad.org/index.php/resources-for-clinicians/k-10-scale (2000). Accessed 11 June 2016.
  28. 28.
    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Use of the Kessler psychological distress scale in ABS health surveys, Australia, 2007-08 Information Paper [Internet]. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4817.0.55.001Chapter92007-08 (2012). Accessed 14 June 2016.
  29. 29.
    Victorian Government Department of Human Services. Victorian population health surveys 2007. Victoria: Rural and Regional Health and Aged Care Services; 2008.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Hosmer DW, Lemeshow S, Sturdivant RX. Applied logistic regression. 3rd ed. New York: Wiley; 2013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Pedersen A, Dunn K, Forrest J, McGarty C. Prejudice and discrimination from two sides: how do middle-eastern Australians experience it and how do other Australians explain it? J Pacific Rim Psychol. 2012;6(1):18–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Wyatt T, Oswalt SB. Comparing mental health issues among undergraduate and graduate students. Am J Health Educ. 2013;44(2):96–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hofstede G. Culture’s consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage; 2001.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Dejman M, Ekbad S, Forouzan AS, Baradaran-Eftekhari M, Malekafzali H. Explanatory model of help-seeking and coping mechanisms among depressed women in three ethnic groups of Fars, Kurdish, and Turkish in Iran. Arch Iran Med. 2008;11(4):397–406.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Bahramitash R, Hooglund E. Gender in contemporary Iran: pushing the boundaries. Vol. 10. Abingdon: Taylor & Francis; 2011.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Nayyeri MH. Gender inequality and discrimination: the case of Iranian women. http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/legal-commentary/1000000261-gender-inequality-and-discrimination-the-case-of-iranian-women.html#.WKNzpJmYt_Q.email (2013). Accessed 20 Jan 2017.
  37. 37.
    Sahami Martin S. Illness of the mind or illness of the spirit? mental health-related conceptualization and practices of older Iranian immigrants. Health Soc Work. 2009;34(2):117.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Edwards AL. The social desirability variable in personality assessment and research. New York: Dryden Press; 1957.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Centre for Health Research, School of MedicineWestern Sydney UniversityCampbelltownAustralia

Personalised recommendations