Happiness, stress, depressive symptoms, and health behaviors among Vietnamese university students

Main Article Content

Nga Nguyen Thi
Raul Calderon Jr
Tien Truong Quang
Kien Nguyen Trung
Quynh Chi Nguyen Thai Chi Nguyen Thai
Thuy Hua Thanh
Thuan Nguyen Hoang Minh Nguyen Hoang Minh
Bao Vu Viet
Huong Nguyen Thanh

Abstract

Happiness and stress levels differ by age, gender, and nationality and are known to impact student health. Previous studies from multiple countries have reported associations between happiness, stress, and student health outcomes. Information concerning happiness, stress, and health behaviors among Asian students is limited. Thus, this study aimed to describe and investigate (1) differences and associations between happiness, health behaviors, perceived stress, and depressive symptoms, and (2) identify significant predictors of happiness among a sample of Vietnamese university students.


A cross-sectional study conducted during the Fall semester of 2016 included 1775 undergraduate students (mean age 20.23, SD=1.48) from three universities in Vietnam. The questionnaire included subjective happiness and perceived stress scales, depressive symptoms, and health behavior questions. Analyses included descriptive statistics, Student's t-test, ANOVA, univariate, and multivariate binary regression.


Students who were: male, not living with parents, in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year, attended public and urban universities and were in public health, sport, and physical education majors had significantly lower happiness scores than their comparison groups. Significant univariate associations of happiness included gender, age group, resident status, year in university, university name, major of study, eating more vegetables, quality and quantity of sleep, not drinking caffeinated tea every day, perceived stress, and depressive symptoms. Significant predictors of happiness included living with parents, year in university, university name, eating more vegetables, and perceived stress.


This study identified significant differences, associations, and predictors of happiness in health behaviors, mental health, perceived stress, and socio-demographic variables among Vietnamese students. A counterintuitive finding (positive association) between stress and happiness is discussed and suggestions for further research are recommended.


Implications of this study suggest that happiness plays a significant role in the health of students and provides specific areas of focus (e.g., diet, resident status, stress, type of university, and year in university) for developing future intervention programs for Asian students.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Section
Original Articles
Author Biographies

Raul Calderon Jr, Faculty of Sports Science, Kasetsart University, Kamphaeng Saen Campus, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

Faculty of Sports Science, Kasetsart University, Kamphaeng Saen Campus, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand

Tien Truong Quang, Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

Kien Nguyen Trung, Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

Quynh Chi Nguyen Thai Chi Nguyen Thai, Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

Thuy Hua Thanh, Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

Thuan Nguyen Hoang Minh Nguyen Hoang Minh, Ho Chi Minh City University of Sports, Viet Nam

Ho Chi Minh City University of Sports, Viet Nam

Bao Vu Viet, Ho Chi Minh City University of Sports, Viet Nam

Ho Chi Minh City University of Sports, Viet Nam

Huong Nguyen Thanh, Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

Hanoi University of Public Health, Viet Nam

References

1. Burris JL, Brechting EH, Salsman J, Carlson CR. Factors Associated With the Psychological Well-Being and Distress of University Students. J Am Coll Health. 2009 Apr 3;57(5):536–44.
2. Grace TW. Health problems of college students. Taylor & Francis; 1997.
3. Makrides L, Veinot P, Richard J, McKee E, Gallivan T. A cardiovascular health needs assessment of university students living in residence. Can J Public Health. 1998;89(3):171–75.
4. Weitzman ER. Poor mental health, depression, and associations with alcohol consumption, harm, and abuse in a national sample of young adults in college. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2004;192(4):269–277.
5. Ryan RM, Deci and EL. On Happiness and Human Potentials: A Review of Research on Hedonic and Eudaimonic Well-Being. Annu Rev Psychol. 2001;52(1):141–66.
6. Seligman ME. Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realize your potential for lasting fulfillment. Simon and Schuster; 2004.
7. Lyubomirsky S, King L, Diener E. The benefits of frequent positive affect: Does happiness lead to success? Psychol Bull. 2005;131(6):803.
8. Ryff CD, Singer BH. Know Thyself and Become What You Are: A Eudaimonic Approach to Psychological Well-Being. J Happiness Stud. 2006 Oct 5;9(1):13–39.
9. Diener E. Subjective well-being: The science of happiness and a proposal for a national index. Am Psychol. 2000;55(1):34.
10. Burton NW, Pakenham KI, Brown WJ. Evaluating the effectiveness of psychosocial resilience training for heart health, and the added value of promoting physical activity: a cluster randomized trial of the READY program. BMC Public Health. 2009;9(1):427.
11. Dumitrescu AL, Kawamura M, Dogaru BC, Dogaru CD. Relation of achievement motives, satisfaction with life, happiness and oral health in Romanian university students. Oral Health Prev Dent. 2010;8(1).
12. Oswald AJ, Wu S. Objective confirmation of subjective measures of human well-being: Evidence from the USA. Science. 2010;327(5965):576–579.
13. Page RM, Suwanteerangkul J. Self-rated health, psychosocial functioning, and health-related behavior among Thai adolescents. Pediatr Int. 2009;51(1):120–125.
14. Schiffrin HH, Nelson SK. Stressed and happy? Investigating the relationship between happiness and perceived stress. J Happiness Stud. 2010;11(1):33–39.
15. Steptoe A, Dockray S, Wardle J. Positive affect and psychobiological processes relevant to health. J Pers. 2009;77(6):1747–1776.
16. Bloodworth A, McNamee M. Conceptions of well-being in psychology and exercise psychology research: a philosophical critique. Health Care Anal. 2007;15(2):107–121.
17. Kawada T, Kuratomi Y, Kanai T. Lifestyle determinants of depressive feeling and a feeling of unhappiness among workers: a study in Japan. Work. 2009;33(3):255–260.
18. Mojs E, Stanis\lawska-Kubiak M, Skommer M, Wojciak R. Smoking from the perspective of positive psychology. Przegl Lek. 2009;66(10):765–767.
19. Stubbe JH, De Moor MHM, Boomsma DI, de Geus EJC. The association between exercise participation and well-being: a co-twin study. Prev Med. 2007;44(2):148–152.
20. Graham C, Eggers A, Sukhtankar S. Does happiness pay?: An exploration based on panel data from Russia. J Econ Behav Organ. 2004;55(3):319–342.
21. Molnar DS, Busseri MA, Perrier CP, Sadava SW. A longitudinal examination of alcohol use and subjective well-being in an undergraduate sample. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2009;70(5):704–713.
22. Murphy JG, McDevitt-Murphy ME, Barnett NP. Drink and be merry? Gender, life satisfaction, and alcohol consumption among college students. Psychol Addict Behav. 2005;19(2):184.
23. Grant N, Wardle J, Steptoe A. The relationship between life satisfaction and health behavior: a cross-cultural analysis of young adults. Int J Behav Med. 2009;16(3):259–268.
24. Le TN, Lai MH, Wallen J. Multiculturalism and subjective happiness as mediated by cultural and relational variables. Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2009;15(3):303.
25. Swami V, Stieger S, Voracek M, Dressler SG, Eisma L, Furnham A. Psychometric evaluation of the Tagalog and German Subjective Happiness Scales and a cross-cultural comparison. Soc Indic Res. 2009;93(2):393–406.
26. Lyubomirsky S, Lepper HS. A Measure of Subjective Happiness: Preliminary Reliability and Construct Validation. Soc Indic Res. 1999 Feb;46(2):137–55.
27. VanderWeele TJ, Trudel-Fitzgerald C, Allin P, Farrelly C, Fletcher G, Frederick DE, et al. Current recommendations on the selection of measures for well-being. Prev Med. 2020;106004.
28. Cohen S, Kamarck T, Mermelstein R. A Global Measure of Perceived Stress. J Health Soc Behav. 1983;24(4):385–96.
29. Hamilton, C. PhenX Toolkit [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2018 Feb 12]. Available from: https://www.phenxtoolkit.org/
30. World Health Organization. Appropriate body-mass index for Asian populations and its implications for policy and intervention strategies. The Lancet. 2004;363(9403):157–63.
31. World Health Organization. Promoting fruit and vegetable consumption around the world. Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health.
32. Piqueras JA, Kuhne W, Vera-Villarroel P, van Straten A, Cuijpers P. Happiness and health behaviours in Chilean college students: A cross-sectional survey. BMC Public Health. 2011 Jun 7;11(1):443.
33. Perneger TV, Hudelson PM, Bovier PA. Health and happiness in young Swiss adults. Qual Life Res. 2004 Feb;13(1):171–8.
34. Mehrdadi A, Sadeghian S, Direkvand-Moghadam A, Hashemian A. Factors Affecting Happiness: A Cross-Sectional Study in the Iranian Youth. J Clin Diagn Res. 2016 May;10(5):VC01–3.
35. Peltzer K, Pengpid S, Sodi T, Toloza SCM. Happiness and health behaviours among university students from 24 low, middle and high income countries. J Psychol Afr. 2017 Feb 27;27(1):61–8.
36. Calderon Jr R, Pupanead S, Prachakul W, Kim G. Happiness, perceived stress, psychological well-being, and health behaviors of Thai university students: preliminary results from a multinational study on well-being. J Am Coll Health. 2019 Oct 21;0(0):1–9.
37. Ngamaba KH. Happiness and life satisfaction in Rwanda. J Psychol Afr. 2016 Oct 28;26(5):407–14.
38. Chen J, Ho SY, Leung LT, Wang MP, Lam TH. Associations of unhappiness with sociodemographic factors and unhealthy behaviours in Chinese adolescents. Eur J Public Health. 2017 Jun 1;27(3):518–24.
39. Fararouei M, Brown IJ, Akbartabar Toori M, Estakhrian Haghighi R, Jafari J. Happiness and health behaviour in Iranian adolescent girls. J Adolesc. 2013 Dec;36(6):1187–92.
40. Goldhagen SW. Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives. Frist Edition edition. New York, NY: Harper; 2017. 384 p.
41. Lesani A, Mohammadpoorasl A, Javadi M, Esfeh JM, Fakhari A. Eating breakfast, fruit and vegetable intake and their relation with happiness in college students. Eat Weight Disord. 2016 Dec;21(4):645–51.
42. Peltzer K, Pengpid S. Dietary behaviors, psychological well-being, and mental distress among university students in ASEAN. Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci. 2017;11(2).
43. Cook E, Chater A. Are happier people, healthier people? The relationship between perceived happiness, personal control, BMI and health preventive behaviours. Int J Health Promot Educ. 2010 Jan 1;48(2):58–64.
44. Kye SY, Park K. Health-related determinants of happiness in Korean adults. Int J Public Health. 2014 Oct 1;59(5):731–8.
45. Argyle M. Is happiness a cause of health? Psychol Health. 1997 Dec 1;12(6):769–81.
46. Peltzer K, Pengpid S. Subjective happiness and health behavior among a sample of university students in India. Soc Behav Personal Int J. 2013;41:1045–56.
47. Minh HV, Giang KB, Ngoc NB, Hai PT, Huyen DTT, Khue LN, et al. Prevalence of tobacco smoking in Vietnam: findings from the Global Adult Tobacco Survey 2015. Int J Public Health. 2017 Feb 1;62(1):121–9.
48. World Health Organization. Promoting mental health: concepts, emerging evidence, practice. Gevena: World Health Organization; 2004.
49. Roysamb E, Tambs K, Reichborn-Kjennerud T, Neale MC, Harris JR. Happiness and health: environmental and genetic contributions to the relationship between subjective well-being, perceived health, and somatic illness. J Soc Psychol. 2003 Dec;85(6):1136–46.