First-year university students' health status and socio-demographic determinants of their self-rated health

M Vaez, L Laflamme
Work: a Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation 2002, 19 (1): 71-80
This study surveys university students' physical and psychological health status and socio-demographic determinants of their self-rated health (SRH). The study population consists of all first-year students enrolled on the three programs offered at a Swedish university in the autumn of 1998 (3,229 students). In the spring of 1999, a self-administered questionnaire (44 forced-response questions) dealing with health status, life-style and living conditions was sent to the students at their home address (response rate 70%). Associations between overall health and its physical and psychological components were measured, and ANOVAs were conducted to establish the variation in physical, psychological and overall SRH explained by a series of socio-demographic variables. Most students rated their psychological and physical health as good or very good, and restrictions on life activities - when experienced - were found to be considerably more common for physical than for psychological problems. Symptoms related to psychological problems were more frequent among female than male students. Country of birth of student was the strongest predictor of self-rated physical health, and the second strongest predictor of psychological and overall health (following sex of student). Parental educational attainment was a weak but significant predictor of psychological and physical SRH among students, but not of their overall SRH. Overall, physical and psychological SRH, though strongly inter-correlated, are not necessarily redundant measures of one and the same thing. The variation in self-ratings cannot be explained simply with reference to one set of socio-demographic variables.

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