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Prevalence of depression among students at a Sri Lankan University: A study using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) during the COVID-19 pandemic
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health. (International Maternal and Child Health unit (IMCH))
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health. (International Maternal and Child Health unit (IMCH))ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2900-2849
Department of Community and Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Jaffna, Jaffna, Sri Lanka.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health. (International Maternal and Child Health unit (IMCH))
2023 (English)In: BMC Public Health, E-ISSN 1471-2458, Vol. 23, no 1, article id 528Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

The prevalence of mental health disorders is known to be high among university students globally. Currently there are only a few studies on depression among university students in Sri Lanka. The aim of this study was to screen for the prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and other forms of depression, and to evaluate the factors associated with MDD.

Methods

A cross sectional survey using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) was conducted among 637, second-year students from the faculties of Management Studies & Commerce, Science and Medicine at the University of Jaffna, during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Bivariate associations were assessed using chi-squared tests. Logistic regression was used to evaluate factors associated with any type of ragging.

Results

MDD was considered to have been experienced by 31% of the students. From all three faculties, 70% of the students claimed to have experienced some form of depression ranging from mild to severe. The factor associated with MDD was the students’ ethnicity.

Conclusion

Due to the high MDD risk among university students, it is imperative to develop psychosocial interventions to ensure early detection of mental health disorders and provide adequate support to safeguard this vulnerable population.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central (BMC), 2023. Vol. 23, no 1, article id 528
Keywords [en]
Major Depressive disorder; mental health; PHQ-9; university students; South Asia; public health; COVID-19
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-488179DOI: 10.1186/s12889-023-15427-yISI: 000956396600008PubMedID: 36941588OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-488179DiVA, id: diva2:1709800
Available from: 2022-11-09 Created: 2022-11-09 Last updated: 2023-08-28Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Phenomenon of Ragging: Violence among University students in Sri Lanka
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Phenomenon of Ragging: Violence among University students in Sri Lanka
2022 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Ragging is an initiation ritual carried out in Sri Lankan universities, where new students are harassed by senior students. This practice has severe adverse consequences including depression, increased university dropouts and suicide. Although this is a significant public health problem and a burden on the country, research on ragging is scarce.

This thesis aimed to investigate and gain a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of ragging, through the various perspectives of students and individuals attached to the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. The prevalence of Major depressive disorder (MDD) among the students was also examined. 

Paper I, a cross-sectional survey, demonstrated that 59% of the students from the faculties of Medicine and Technology experienced ragging. Health consequences were experienced by 54% and help was mainly sought from friends and family. The student’s faculty and year of study was associated with ragging.

In Paper II, 17 focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted with students representing all faculties. Thematic analysis was employed to navigate through the theoretical lenses of structural violence, intersectionality, and social dominance. Findings revealed students used ragging as an expression of power to initiate order and express dissatisfaction towards social inequalities. Students trivialized violence despite being aware of the dire consequences.

In Paper III, 11 semi-structured interviews and seven FDGs were conducted with staff and work-affiliated individuals at the university. Foucauldian Discourse Analysis and Bandura’s Moral Disengagement theory were utilized to interpret the findings. The main discourses were; Ragging as normal and necessary, Insecurity and fear of reprisal, and Voices of resistance. Participants felt unsupported and in order to survive in this insecure environment, they adapted their moral judgments.

In Paper IV, Patient Health Questionnaires (PHQ-9) were used to screen for MDD among students (n=637), from Faculties of Management, Science and Medicine. MDD was experienced by 31% of students. Among all the student participants, 70% had experienced some form of depression ranging from mild to severe. MDD was associated with the student’s ethnicity.

Interventions targeting both individual and multisectoral levels are needed in order to curb ragging, and create a safe and nurturing environment for all. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2022. p. 74
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 1887
Keywords
hazing; harassment; abuse; violence; university students; public health; South Asia; Students; Depression; Mental health
National Category
Other Medical Sciences
Research subject
Medical Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-488180 (URN)978-91-513-1661-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2023-01-18, Sal XI, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2022-12-21 Created: 2022-11-09 Last updated: 2023-08-18

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Wickramasinghe, AyanthiEssén, BirgittaAxemo, Pia

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