Background: The association between student characteristics and depression among students attending women's colleges (single-sex institutions of higher education that exclude or limit males from admission) is poorly understood. Our objective was to estimate the prevalence of depression and determine behavioral and social characteristics associated with depression among students attending a women's college.
Methods: We administered a cross-sectional Internet-based survey between April and May 2012 to students (n = 277) enrolled at a private women's college in the southeastern US. Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) and Depression Anxiety Stress Scale 21 (DASS-21) instruments measured self-reported depression. Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression methods were used to estimate adjusted associations.
Results: Prevalence of depression measured by CES-D and DASS-21 instruments was 26.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 20.8-32.3%) and 26.0% (95% CI 20.4-32.3%), respectively. After adjusting for confounders, absence of strong social support (prevalence odds ratio [OR] = 4.3, 95% CI 1.4-13.7), history of mental health disorder (OR = 4.8 95% CI 1.9-12.4), and poor sleep hygiene (OR = 2.8, 95% CI 1.3-5.8) were associated with depression.
Conclusions: This cross-sectional survey identified absence of strong social support, history of mental health disorder, and poor sleep hygiene as potential predictors of depression among students attending a women's college. Further investigation of these factors may inform depression interventions for students attending women's colleges and other undergraduate student populations.