COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Feeling healthy? A survey of physical and psychological wellbeing of students from seven universities in the UK

Walid El Ansari, Christiane Stock, Sherrill Snelgrove, Xiaoling Hu, Sian Parke, Shân Davies, Jill John, Hamed Adetunji, Mary Stoate, Pat Deeny, Ceri Phillips, Andi Mabhala
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2011, 8 (5): 1308-23
21655121
University students' physical and psychological health and wellbeing are important and comprise many variables. This study assessed perceived health status in addition to a range of physical and psychological wellbeing indicators of 3,706 undergraduate students from seven universities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We compared differences in these variables across males and females, and across the participating universities. The data was collected in 2007-2008. A self-administered questionnaire assessed socio-demographic information (e.g., gender, age), self-reported physical and psychological health data, as well as questions on health awareness, health service use, social support, burdens and stressors and university study related questions. While females generally reported more health problems and psychological burdens, male students felt that they received/had fewer persons to depend on for social support. The comparisons of health and wellbeing variables across the different universities suggested some evidence of 'clustering' of the variables under study, whereby favourable situations would be exhibited by a cluster of the variables that is encountered at some universities; and conversely, the clustering of less favourable variables as exhibited at other universities. We conclude that the level of health complaints and psychological problems/burdens is relatively high and calls for increased awareness of university administrators, leaders and policy makers to the health and well-being needs of their students. The observed clustering effects also indicated the need for local (university-specific) health and wellbeing profiles as basis and guidance for relevant health promotion programmes at universities.

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