The study aimed to explore changes in the prevalence of psychological distress and co-occurring psychological symptoms among 19-34 years old Finnish university students between the years 2000 and 2012.
The prevalence of perceived frequent psychological symptoms was compared in four nationwide cross-sectional student health surveys with random samples (N=11,502) in the following years: 2000 (N=3,174), 2004 (N=3,153), 2008 (N=2,750), and 2012 (N=2,425).
In the time phase from 2000 to 2012, the overall psychological distress (12-item General Health Questionnaire, GHQ-12) increased from 22% to 28%, while there was also an increase in the frequently experienced psychological symptoms (depressiveness from 13% to 15%, anxiety from 8% to 13%, concentration problems from 12% to 18%, and psychological tension from 13% to 18% with a peak prevalence observed in 2008). The co-occurrence of different psychological symptoms increased as well. Psychological distress was more common in females and in older students.
The findings suggest an increasing trend of frequent psychological distress among Finnish university students over the years from 2000 to 2012, with the peak prevalence occurring in 2008, which may reflect the growing multifaceted environmental demands.
The present study examined behavioral coping actions and coping strategies in relation to specific contextual factors (e.g., victim-stalker relationship, stalking violence, duration of stalking, and prior victimization) among Finnish university students. Participants completed a stalking survey, also including items concerning coping. Victims of violent stalking threatened the stalker with the use of certain legal actions significantly more compared with victims of nonviolent stalking, but no difference in the actual use of formal help was found. Instead victims of stalking tried to avoid the stalker or turned to friends and family for help. Victim-stalker relationship, stalker violence, and number of stalking episodes had a significant main effect on certain coping strategies (e.g., positive reappraisal, escape-avoidance, and problem-solving), while no interaction effect was found. The findings suggest that knowledge of victim-coping behavior and strategies is crucial for health care and law enforcement professionals when devising appropriate support for victims and developing multidisciplinary approaches.
The present study examined the prevalence and nature of stalking among university students in Finland. The prevalence of stalking was analyzed in relation to stalking episodes, violent stalking victimization, the stalker-victim relationship, and stalking duration. A group of Finnish university students were contacted by e-mail and asked to participate in a stalking survey. In total, 615 students participated. Almost one fourth of the respondents (22.3%) had experienced one episode (i.e., period of time) of stalking, and more than one fourth (26.2%) reported being stalked two or more episodes (i.e., periods of time) in their lifetime. More than half (55%) of the stalkers were acquaintances, 25% were ex-partners, and 19% were strangers. The mean duration of stalking was 10 months. Stalking duration was significantly associated with stalker gender and prior victim-stalker relationship. Almost half of those being stalked (46%) had been exposed to violent or threatening behavior. Ex-partner stalkers were most likely to use violence as well as a wide range of violent stalking methods. Logistic regression analysis revealed significant independent associations between stalking violence and stalking behaviors. Stalking is highly prevalent among Finnish university students; it is maintained, on average, for a relatively long period; and it often includes some form of violence and/or threats. The results suggest that health care professionals require screening methods and schooling concerning stalking.
Together at School is a universal intervention program designed to promote socio-emotional skills among primary-school children. It is based on a whole school approach, and implemented in school classes by teachers. The aim of the present study is to examine the short-term effects of the intervention program in improving socio-emotional skills and reducing psychological problems among boys and girls. We also examine whether these effects depend on grade level (Grades 1 to 3) and intervention dosage.
This cluster randomized controlled trial design included 79 Finnish primary schools (40 intervention and 39 control) with 3 704 children. The outcome measures were the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) and the Multisource Assessment of Social Competence Scale (MASCS) with teachers as raters. The intervention dosage was indicated by the frequencies six central tools were used by the teachers. The data was collected at baseline and 6 months later. Intervention effects were analyzed using multilevel modeling.
When analyzed across all grades no intervention effect was observed in improving children's socio-emotional skills or in reducing their psychological problems at 6-month follow-up. Among third (compared to first) graders the intervention decreased psychological problems. Stratified analyses by gender showed that this effect was significant only among boys and that among them the intervention also improved third graders' cooperation skills. Among girls the intervention effects were not moderated by grade. Implementing the intervention with intended intensity (i.e. a high enough dosage) had a significant positive effect on cooperation skills. When analyzed separately among genders, this effect was significant only in girls.
These first, short-term results of the Together at School intervention program did not show any main effects on children's socio-emotional skills or psychological problems. This lack of effects may be due to the relatively short follow-up period given the universal, whole school-based approach of the program. The results suggest that the grade level where the intervention is started might be a factor in the program's effectiveness. Moreover, the results also suggest that for this type of intervention program to be effective, it needs to be delivered with a high enough dosage.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT02178332 ; Date of registration: 03-April-2014.
Schools provide a natural context to promote children's mental health. However, there is a need for more evidence-based, high quality school intervention programs combined with an accurate evaluation of their general effectiveness and effectiveness of specific intervention methods. The aim of this paper is to present a study protocol of a cluster randomized controlled trial evaluating the "Together at School" intervention program. The intervention program is designed to promote social-emotional skills and mental health by utilizing whole-school approach and focuses on classroom curriculum, work environment of school staff, and parent-teacher collaboration methods.
The evaluation study examines the effects of the intervention on children's socio-emotional skills and mental health in a cluster randomized controlled trial design with 1) an intervention group and 2) an active control group. Altogether 79 primary school participated at baseline. A multi-informant setting involves the children themselves, their parents, and teachers. The primary outcomes are measured using parent and teacher ratings of children's socio-emotional skills and psychological problems measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Multisource Assessment of Social Competence Scale. Secondary outcomes for the children include emotional understanding, altruistic behavior, and executive functions (e.g. working memory, planning, and inhibition). Secondary outcomes for the teachers include ratings of e.g. school environment, teaching style and well-being. Secondary outcomes for both teachers and parents include e.g. emotional self-efficacy, child rearing practices, and teacher-parent collaboration. The data was collected at baseline (autumn 2013), 6 months after baseline, and will be collected also 18 months after baseline from the same participants.
This study protocol outlines a trial which aims to add to the current state of intervention programs by presenting and studying a contextually developed and carefully tested intervention program which is tailored to fit a national school system. Identification of effective intervention elements to promote children's mental health in early school years is crucial for optimal later development.
The present study examined the prevalence of various forms of violence victimization among university students in Finland. Violence victimization was analyzed in relation to physical and mental health symptoms, and the use of student healthcare services. A cross-sectional Student Health Survey was performed as a national postal survey for Finnish university students in 2004. In the next phase of the study, an additional postal survey regarding violence victimization was sent to those who had answered the original survey, which resulted in a sample of 905 students. It was found that violence victimization and violence-related health issues were markedly prevalent among Finnish university students. The students reported multiple forms of violence and injury demonstrating the diversity of violence victimization. Male and female victims differed both in the amount and type of symptoms, and in their relationship to the abuser/offender. Violence victimization and gender had a significant main effect on specific symptoms, while no interaction effect was found. The data also showed that violence victimization is overrepresented among frequent healthcare users. These findings have implications for clinical practice and public policy. The present findings provide useful information for policy makers and healthcare professionals concerning the health effects of violence in accordance with the use of healthcare services. More specifically, this information should be taken into consideration when planning student healthcare and could serve as a guideline for student healthcare management.