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FSD2959 University Student Health Survey 2012

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Authors

  • Kunttu, Kristina (Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS))
  • Pesonen, Tommi (Oy 4Pharma Ltd)

Keywords

academic achievement, alcohol use, bullying, dental health, diet and exercise, dietary habits, drinking behaviour, drug use, employment, gambling, harassment, health, health services, health status, internet use, interpersonal relations, learning disabilities, mental health, physical activities, sexual behaviour, sexual health, sleep, students (college)

Abstract

The national survey focused on the health and health-related behaviour of university and university of applied science (polytechnic) students in Finland. Questions covered physical, mental, dental and sexual health, health-related behaviour, cultural and social meanings of physical activities, social interaction, learning disabilities, study environment, bullying, stalking and violence, the use of and satisfaction with student health services. Another aim was to provide information about immigrant students.

General state of health was charted with a number of questions relating to long-term illnesses, disabilities or disorders. Some questions covered the respondents' weight and height, and attitude to food. Psychological or social symptoms causing problems were investigated. Psychosocial health was further studied using the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12).

Use of and satisfaction with health services was studied with questions relating to health professionals visited during the past year and in which service organisation, satisfaction with the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS), reasons for using other than FSHS health services, and what type of guidance they would like in certain issues (e.g. stress or weight management, study skills, alcohol use, smoking cessation).

Engagement in sporting activities and less vigorous physical activities, and use of performance enhancing substances (doping) were surveyed. Eating habits were investigated with a number of questions based on the Index of Diet Quality (IDQ), for instance, asking where the respondents ate their main meals and the consumption of dairy products, bread, fruit, vegetables, etc. The respondents were also asked how often they brushed or flossed their teeth and used toothpaste or xylitol products, and whether they had problems with teeth grinding, had bite guard, or experienced facial pain or jaw locking. Health-related behaviour was further studied by asking the respondents about their smoking habits, and the use of drugs and alcohol (amount, frequency). Drinking habits were charted by using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Some questions covered gambling and possible problems caused by it.

One theme pertained to the respondents' studies. They were asked about previous qualifications, how many years they had been enrolled as 'present' for current studies, credits earned, study success, confidence of having chosen the right field of study, hours spent on study, and hours spent on paid work during the study year. The sufficiency of study guidance and advice provided by the institution were investigated as well as positive and negative feelings (e.g. enthuasiasm, burnout) related to their studies and types of learning difficulties (e.g. dyslexia) experienced. The respondents were also asked to evaluate their financial situation.

The survey also studied interpersonal relationships. The respondents were asked about their household composition and living arrangements, marital status and partnerships, number of children, intention to have (more) children, spending time with friends, whether they felt lonely or part of a group, and whether they had someone close to them with whom they could discuss their affairs. Learning difficulties were further investigated with questions on diagnosed learning disabilities, who had done the diagnosis and when, and support received from the institution. Internet use and problems caused by it were examined.

Some questions charted whether the respondents had been subjected to bullying at school, how often and to what kind of bullying, whether they had been subjected to bullying or discrimination during their university studies or had themselves bullied or discriminated against others, and whether they had bullied their siblings or been bullied by them. The respondents were asked whether they had been subjected to stalking or violence, how often and by whom, and whether they themselves had engaged in stalking or violent behaviour, how often and whom they had targeted.

Sexual health questions covered the use of contraception, lack of sexual partner or sexual activity, level of sexual desire, satisfaction with and experiences during intercourse based on FSFI-6 Index, satisfaction with own sex life in general, age when had first sexual intercourse, and sexual pain or other vulvodynia problems.

The final theme pertained to the role of physical exercise and sports in the respondents' lives. First, a number of statements charted personality traits, interest areas and consumer habits. The importance of certain things in the respondents' lives (e.g. study, work, hobbies, nature, religion), time spent on particular activities (e.g. sporting activities, arts, being with friends, shopping), hobbies of particular interest, and physical, social, mental and general well-being were investigated. The respondents were also asked how important a number of aspects (e.g. learning new skills, improving self-confidence, stress release) were to them in physical activities/sports, and whether parents, siblings, friends, the media or experiences from school etc. had increased or decreased their interest in sports. The extent to which a number of factors prevented their sporting activities (e.g. disabilities, lack of time, information, skills or support), and money spent on sports clothing, equipment, services or events were charted.

Background variables included the respondent's age, gender, country of birth, language used in childhood home, length of time residing in Finland, name of the university, field of study, economic activity and occupational status of the parents at the time when R was 15 years old, and R's evaluation whether his or her own field/work had higher or lower status than those of the parents.

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