BMJ Open. 2023 Sep 14;13(9):e072178. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2023-072178.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the association between different aspects of study environment and the incidence of mental health problems and activity-limiting musculoskeletal problems.
DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: We recruited a cohort of 4262 Swedish university students of whom 2503 (59%) were without moderate or worse mental health problems and 2871 (67%) without activity-limiting musculoskeletal problems at baseline. The participants were followed at five time points over 1 year using web surveys.
EXPOSURES: Self-rated discrimination, high study pace, low social cohesion and poor physical environment measured at baseline.
OUTCOMES: Self-rated mental health problems defined as scoring above cut-off on any of the subscales of the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale. Self-rated activity-limiting musculoskeletal problems in any body location assessed by the Nordic Musculoskeletal Questionnaire.
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Discrete survival-time analysis was used to estimate the hazard rate ratio (HR) of each exposure-outcome combination while adjusting for gender, age, living situation, education type, year of studies, place of birth and parental education as potential confounders.
RESULTS: For discrimination, adjusted HRs were 1.75 (95% CI 1.40 to 2.19) for mental health problems and 1.39 (95% CI 1.12 to 1.72) for activity-limiting musculoskeletal problems. For high study pace, adjusted HRs were 1.70 (95% CI 1.48 to 1.94) for mental health problems and 1.25 (95% CI 1.09 to 1.43) for activity-limiting musculoskeletal problems. For low social cohesion, adjusted HRs were 1.51 (95% CI 1.29 to 1.77) for mental health problems and 1.08 (95% CI 0.93 to 1.25) for activity-limiting musculoskeletal problems. For perceived poor physical study environment, adjusted HRs were 1.20 (95% CI 0.99 to 1.45) for mental health problems and 1.20 (95% CI 1.01 to 1.43) for activity-limiting musculoskeletal problems.
CONCLUSIONS: Several aspects of the study environment were associated with the incidence of mental health problems and activity-limiting musculoskeletal problems in this sample of Swedish university students.