Stress, health, well-being and demand for innovative, mobile internet-based health promotion in distance-learning students

  • J. Apolin├írio-Hagen
  • J. Kemper
  • C. Salewski
  • S.D. Groenewold


BACKGROUND: Given the rise of stress-related health problems in students, universities need to provide theory-led, evidence-based health promotion programs. This applies also to distance-learning universities with high proportions of non-traditional students facing multiple stressors. To meet the demand for health promotion of this group, innovative strategies should be considered and be based on reliable health data. OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to identify health determinants, stressors, resources, needs and preferences toward health promotion services in distance-learning students. METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional online app-delivered health survey at the distance-learning University of Hagen using validated scales and self-developed items. Constructs included subjective health, life satisfaction, self-efficacy, social support, eHealth literacy, study-work-life-related stressors, health behaviour and utilization of self-help. Also, willingness, preferences and barriers to use health promotion services were assessed. RESULTS: Of the 5.721 respondents, most were aged between 25 and 39 years and more than two-third were employed and part-time students. Although self-rated health was moderate to poor, self-efficacy, social support and eHealth literacy were overall assessed as positive. Study-related stressors included shortage of time and pressure to perform. Most participants indicated a preference for apps for stress management, relaxation, mindfulness, and for the prevention of procrastination. Barriers to using digital interventions involved concerns about their helpfulness and data security. CONCLUSIONS: The findings confirm the need for digital mental health interventions for distance-learning students. In a next step of the study project, group-tailored e-Health stress management programs will be implemented and evaluated.
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