FSD3224 University Student Health Survey 2016

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  • Kunttu, Kristina (Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS))
  • Pesonen, Tommi (Oy 4Pharma Ltd)
  • Saari, Juhani (Research Foundation for Studies and Education (Otus))


access to health services, alcohol use, dental health, diet and exercise, dietary habits, exercise (physical activity), health services, health status, mental disorders, sexual behaviour, sexual health, smoking, students (college), substance use, symptoms


This national survey examined the health and health-related behaviour of university and university of applied sciences (polytechnic) students in Finland. Questions covered, among other topics, physical, mental and dental health, health-related behaviour, social interaction, and eating habits.

General state of health was charted with a number of questions relating to long-term illnesses, disabilities or disorders, and current well-being in general. The respondents were asked if they had suffered from a variety of symptoms in the previous month. Birth control methods used by the respondent and her/his partner within the previous month were surveyed. Some questions covered the respondents' weight, height, and attitude toward food. Psychological or social symptoms causing problems were investigated. Psychosocial health was further studied using items of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12).

Use of healthcare services by different types of service providers and satisfaction with the services of the Finnish Student Health Service (FSHS) were surveyed, along with reasons for using the services of other healthcare service providers. The respondents were also asked if they had used smartphone applications related to health and well-being, and what type of guidance they would have liked in certain issues (e.g. stress or weight management, study skills, alcohol use, smoking cessation).

Time spent sitting during the day as well as engagement in sporting activities and less vigorous physical activities were surveyed. Eating habits were investigated with a number of questions based on the Index of Diet Quality (IDQ), for instance, asking where the respondents ate their main meals, if they skipped meals, and the consumption of dairy products, fish, bread, fruit, vegetables, etc. The respondents were also asked how often they brushed or flossed their teeth and used toothpaste or xylitol products, and whether they had problems with teeth grinding (or used a bite guard), facial pain or jaw locking. Health-related behaviour was further studied by asking the respondents about their use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco products (amount, frequency). Drinking habits were further charted using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). Some questions covered gambling and possible problems caused by it.

One theme pertained to the respondents' studies. The survey examined the number of years the respondents had been enrolled as 'present' for current studies, credits earned, study success, and confidence of having chosen the right field of study, as well as hours spent on study and hours spent on paid work during the study year. The sufficiency of study guidance and advice provided by the institution were investigated as well as positive and negative feelings (e.g. enthusiasm, burnout) related to their studies.

Internet use was examined with questions regarding the purposes for which respondents used the internet and how many hours per week, and if it had caused problems with their circadian rhythm, studying or relationships. The respondents' participation in paid work during the academic year was also surveyed, and they were asked to evaluate their financial situation.

The survey also studied interpersonal relationships. The respondents were asked about their household composition and living arrangements, partnerships, sexual orientation, spending time with friends, whether they felt lonely or part of a group, and whether they had someone close to them with whom they could discuss their affairs.

Some questions charted whether the respondents had been subjected to bullying or discrimination during their higher education studies or had themselves bullied or discriminated against others. The respondents were also asked whether they had been subjected to stalking or violence, and by whom. The final theme pertained to family life, and questions covered the number of children, whether the respondents would want to have (more) children, reasons for having or not having children, and support for combining studies and family life (from the university, from other people, or from society).

Background variables included the respondent's age, gender, field of study, and university/university of applied sciences.

Study description in machine readable DDI-C 2.5 format

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