Depression, perceived control, and life satisfaction in university students from Central-Eastern and Western Europe

  • Jane WardleEmail author
  • Andrew Steptoe
  • Gabriel Guliš
  • Gudrun Sartory
  • Helena Sêk
  • Irina Todorova
  • Claus Vögele
  • Michal Ziarko


The poor health and psychological well-being of people in the former socialist states of Central-Eastern Europe are of serious concern and may be related to low perceived control. We compared depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, and self-rated health in 3,571 male and female university students from 5 Western European countries and 4,793 students from 5 Central-Eastern European countries. Depression scores (short Beck Depression Inventory; Beck & Beck, 1972) were higher in Central-Eastern than Western European samples. The prevalence of low life satisfaction was also greater in Central-Eastern Europeans, but ratings of self-rated health did not differ. Ratings of perceived control were diminished, but sense of mastery and internal health locus of control were higher in Central-Eastern Europe. Depression and low life satisfaction were associated with low perceived control and mastery and with strong beliefs in the influence of chance over health. However, taking these factors into account did not explain the East—West difference in depressive symptoms and low life satisfaction.


depression self-rated health life satisfaction Europe control 


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane Wardle
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew Steptoe
    • 1
  • Gabriel Guliš
    • 2
  • Gudrun Sartory
    • 3
  • Helena Sêk
    • 4
  • Irina Todorova
    • 5
  • Claus Vögele
    • 6
  • Michal Ziarko
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Public HealthUniversity College LondonEngland
  2. 2.Narodné Centrum Podpory ZdraviaBratislava, Slovak RepublicEngland
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WuppertalWuppertalGermany
  4. 4.Institute of PsychologyAdam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznanPoland
  5. 5.Health Psychology Research CentreSophiaBulgaria
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LutonLutonEngland

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