JOURNAL ARTICLE

Physical and Psychological Well-being of University Students: Survey of Eleven Faculties in Egypt

Walid El Ansari, Shokria Labeeb, Lawrence Moseley, Safaa Kotb, Amira El-Houfy
International Journal of Preventive Medicine 2013, 4 (3): 293-310
23626886

BACKGROUND: We examined perceived health status and physical and psychological well-being of 3,271 undergraduate students attending eleven faculties in a university in Egypt.

METHODS: During 2009-2010, participants completed a self-administered questionnaire that gathered socio-demographic, physical and psychological health data. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from students' measured height and weight. Differences across these variables were computed by gender and participating faculties.

RESULTS: Whilst more females watched and rated their health favorably, they were more likely to feel psychosomatic/physical health problems, to have seen a medical practitioner or been ill that they had to stay in bed. Females were consistently more likely to feel burdened overall, and across several aspects apart from financial problems. Less females had 'normal' BMI, were satisfied with current weight, perceived their body image as 'just right', or were not worried about their shape. More males rated their quality of life favorably. About 25% of males and 32% of females were either overweight/obese. Exams, presentations, and the lack of time for studies were the frequently-reported burdens. Comparisons of health/well-being indicators across the participating faculties suggested some evidence of 'clustering': Favorable indicators would cluster at some faculties; and conversely, less favorable variables would cluster at other faculties.

CONCLUSIONS: Generally, the levels of some health complaints and psychological problems/burdens are higher than in other countries. Increased vigilance of university administrators and leaders to monitoring the health and well-being of their students, as well as their health needs is required if policy makers are to operate from a valid evidence base platform. Given cultural factors prevalent in the Eastern Mediterranean region generally, female students might require particular attention. The clustering effects suggest the need for local (faculty-specific) health and well-being profiles as basis and guidance for relevant health promotion programs in faculty/university settings.

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