College adjustment, depressive symptoms and peer support among undergraduate university students

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Horgan, Aine M.
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University College Cork
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Background: College adjustment is a developmental milestone that can be stressful and may lead to mental health problems such as depression. Support during this adjustment period is seen as essential, however it is unknown if informal peer support from fellow students has any impact on either college adjustment or depressive symptoms. Aim: To identify levels of social and personal college adjustment, depressive symptoms and peer support among students, and to examine the relationship between the variables. Design: A quantitative correlational design was used Instruments: Data were collected using two subscales of the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire; the Centre for Epidemiology Depressive Symptoms Scale and a subscale of the Peer Support Evaluation Inventory. Sample: The sample consisted of 417, first (n=188), second (n=134) and fourth (n=94) year nursing and midwifery students from one University in Ireland. Findings: The findings indicated that 20% of participants were poorly personally adjusted and 9% poorly socially adjusted. Furthermore, 34% of participants experienced significant depressive symptoms. Most students had good levels of peer support. Statistically significant relationships were found between all key variables, the strongest of which were between personal adjustment and depressive symptoms and social adjustment and depressive symptoms. Differences in adjustment and depressive symptom scores were found based on year of study, with second year students experiencing more depressive symptoms and having poorer personal adjustment scores. Participants who had poor relationships with their father’s experienced greater depressive symptoms and had more difficulties personally and socially adjusting to college. The alcohol consumption of participants had a statistically significant correlation with college adjustment, depressive symptoms and peer support, with higher consumption having a positive impact on the variables.
Depression , Young people , Students , Peer support , College adjustment
Horgan, A. M. 2014. College adjustment, depressive symptoms and peer support among undergraduate university students. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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