Academic journal article College Student Journal

Stress, Sleep, Grief: Are College Students Receiving Information That Interests Them?

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Stress, Sleep, Grief: Are College Students Receiving Information That Interests Them?

Article excerpt

Problem: College life brings with it many challenges for students' well-being including stress, trouble sleeping, anxiety, and difficulties with relationships. However, evidence of substantial variation in organization and availability of health-focused resources on college campuses has been documented and students' interest in health-related topics has not been thoroughly assessed. The objective of the study was to assess college students' interest in receiving health information by sex, age, relationship status, and living situation. Method: The sample included 238 college students (18 to 24 years) from a small Midwestern college. Results: Majority of students indicated interest in information about helping others in distress, sleep difficulties, and stress reduction. Females and younger students were more interested than males and older students in receiving information about stress reduction and helping others in distress. Relationship status and living situation were also associated with interest in receiving information. Conclusions: Exploratory findings indicate college students' interests in health topics differ and should be considered when planning health promotions.

Keywords: health, psychosocial, relationship difficulties, depression, distress

Introduction

College campuses are settings for all major life activities, including education, work, recreation, and socialization (Hunt & Eisenberg, 2010). Research involving college students has shown that along with the life activities come challenges for college students including stress (Darling, McWey, Howard, & Olmstead, 2007; Davies et al., 2000; Grace, 1997; Robotham, 2008), sleep difficulties (Laska, Pasch, Lust, Story, & Ehlinger, 2009), depression (Davies et al., 2000; Zivin, Eisenberg, Gollust, & Golberstein, 2009), and difficulties with relationships (Darling et al., 2007; Davies et al., 2000). The challenges associated with college are different for individual students because of such characteristics as age (Davies et al., 2000; Nelson & Knight, 2010), gender (Darling et al., 2007; Mikolajczyk, Ansari, & Maxwell, 2009), relationship status (Darling et al., 2007), and living situation (Reid & Dixon, 2000). While providing information on these psychosocial health topics may be beneficial, it does not appear that such opportunities to dispense information to college students have been utilized effectively (Grace, 1997; Laska et al., 2009). In fact, evidence of substantial variation in organization and availability of health-focused resources on college campuses has been documented (Hunt & Eisenberg, 2010).

What may be viewed by others as relevant information to provide to college students may not be perceived as helpful by students depending on individual differences (Laska et al., 2009). This highlights the need for educators to better assess the needs and circumstances of students and ask what they can do to help students build a foundation for well-being (Brock, 2010; Hunt & Eisenberg, 2010; Laska et al., 2009; Nelson & Knight, 2010; Zivin et al., 2009). Conducting a needs assessment is a method of gathering valuable information in order to better meet students' needs (Boehm et al., 1993; Zivin et al., 2009). The purpose of this study was to evaluate how college students' interest in receiving information about depression and anxiety, grief and loss, stress reduction, how to help others in distress, sleep difficulties, and relationship difficulties varies by age, gender, living situation, and relationship status.

Methods

Design

A cross-sectional research study was performed to assess relationships between age, gender, relationship status, living situation, and interest in receiving information on a variety of health topics among students from a Midwestern college in the United States. All data were collected and recorded in the first two weeks of the 2010 spring semester. …

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