The effects of economic circumstances on British students' mental and physical health

J Am Coll Health. 1999 Nov;48(3):103-9. doi: 10.1080/07448489909595681.


Three-hundred sixty British university students completed a questionnaire providing information on demographic characteristics, financial circumstances, smoking, and drug and alcohol use. A 14-item inventory of physical symptoms, the short form 36 health survey (SF-36), and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) were used to assess their physical and psychological well-being. Except for physical functioning, all subscales of the SF-36 and the GHQ indicated levels of health significantly below population norms matched for age and sex. Poorer mental health was related to longer working hours outside the university and difficulty in paying bills. Students who had considered abandoning study for financial reasons had poorer mental health, lower levels of social functioning and vitality, and poorer physical health as indicated by variables on the SF-36. They were also heavier smokers. Students' personal debt was significantly associated with their knowing people involved in prostitution, crime, or drug dealing to help support themselves financially.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Employment / psychology
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • London / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Poverty / psychology*
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities*