Rate, Pattern and Psychosocial Correlates of Emotional Distress among Undergraduates in a Nigerian University

Fatoye, F. O. (2002)


Objectives: To determine the rate of emotional distress (anxiety and depression) among undergraduates and to identify psychosocial factors of possible aetiologic importance. Setting: The study was carried out among undergraduates drawn from the 13 faculties of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Methodology: The study design was cross-sectional. A total of 1700 randomly selected undergraduates completed a questionnaire consisting of a standardized instrument on anxiety - the Anxiety Subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), a standardized instrument on depression - the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and a section on psychosocial variables. The questionnaires of 1525 respondents were analysed. The rates of anxiety and depression were determined. The extent of comorbidity of anxiety and depression was also determined. Identified "cases" and "non-cases" were compared on seven psychosocial variables. Results: The rates of anxiety and depression among the study population were 36.4% and 29.7% respectively. Anxiety and depression co-existed in 82.3% of identified cases and their comorbidity had positive and significant association with the severity of depressive symptoms (P < 0.001). Strained relationship between parents and study difficulty were found to be significantly associated with anxiety (P < 0.05). Also, strained relationship between parents, study difficulty and financial difficulty were significantly associated with depression (P < 0.05). Conclusion: These observations show that urgent intervention programmes are necessary. A comprehensive mental health programme within the context of the National Primary health Care policy to include all levels of education is desirable.