What kinds of factors affect the academic outcomes of university students with mental disorders? A retrospective study based on medical records

Asian J Psychiatr. 2018 Feb:32:67-72. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2017.11.017. Epub 2017 Dec 2.


Aims: University students that suffer from mental disorders seem to have difficulty graduating. Therefore, we investigated risk and protective factors of dropping out with the aim of improving such students' academic outcomes.

Methods: First, we statistically compared the academic outcomes of 203 undergraduate students who received treatment in the Department of Psychiatry of the Tsukuba University Health Center to those of matched controls. Second, clinical factors of 370 mentally ill students were statistically compared between the dropout and graduate groups.

Results: Mentally ill students experienced significantly greater difficulties graduating. Furthermore, the ratio of females and the year of study at initial consultation were significantly lower in the dropout group. However, duration of illness, social withdrawal, temporary leaves of absence, percentage of diagnosis of F2, history of truancy, CGI-S/GI score, number of suicide attempts, visits to us, family consultations with us and grade repeating were longer or greater in the dropout group. Ultimately, the number of suicide attempts, CGI-S score, social withdrawal and leaves of absence were significantly associated with dropping out. Moreover, duration of social withdrawal and leaves of absence were significantly correlated with CGI-GI score.

Conclusion: We found that the number of suicide attempts, CGI-S score, social withdrawal and extended enrollment were risk factors for dropping out, while the therapeutic effect seemed to be a protective factor. As risk factors involved states of social maladjustment, it is necessary not only to treat mental disorders, but also to provide assistance such as educational and individual support for daily living.

Keywords: Academic outcome; Grade repeating/temporary leave of absence; Medical record; Mental disorder; Social withdrawal.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Success*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Medical Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Student Dropouts / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data*
  • Suicide, Attempted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Universities / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult