Main Article Content
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.
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