Family and college environmental exposures mediate the relationship between parental education and depression among college students

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Abstract

Background Depression is a major health concern for college students due to its substantial morbidity and mortality. Although low parental education has been identified as a factor in depression in college students, the mechanisms through which parental educational achievement affects students' depression are not well understood. We tested whether adverse family and college environments mediate the relationship between parental educational level and depression among Chinese college students. Methods A total of 5180 respondents were selected using a cross-sectional survey. We examined the association of parental education, adverse family and college environments with depression in college students using the Adolescent Self-Rating Life Events Checklist, Beck Depression Inventory and socio-demographic questionnaires. Results Lower parental educational level is significantly correlated with depression in college students in our sample. Additionally, low family economic status, paternal or maternal unemployment, long periods spent apart from family, family conflicts, having been scolded and beaten by parents, poor or dissatisfying test performance, conflict with friends, heavy course load and failure in selection processes are also associated with parental education. Low family economic status, paternal or maternal unemployment, long periods spent apart from family, family conflicts, poor or dissatisfying test performance, conflict with friends and heavy course load mediated the relationship between parental education and depression in college students. Conclusions Adverse family and college environments could explain the influence of parental educational level on depression in college students.

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Zhai, H., Chen, L., Yang, Y., Sun, H., Pan, H., He, J., … He, C. (2016). Family and college environmental exposures mediate the relationship between parental education and depression among college students. PLoS ONE, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151759

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