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Quantifying and predicting depression literacy of undergraduates: a cross sectional study in Sri Lanka



Quantifying and predicting depression literacy of undergraduates: a cross sectional study in Sri Lanka



Bmc Psychiatry 15: 269



The high rates of depression and low rates of related help-seeking among undergraduates are matters for concern. In response to the need to examine their knowledge about depression and its management, and the dearth of such research from non-western developing countries, this study examined the depression literacy of undergraduates in Sri Lanka. A questionnaire was administered among 4671 undergraduates to examine their depression literacy relating to problem-recognition, measured using a vignette of a depressed undergraduate, and their treatment beliefs measured by assessing their perceptions about the helpfulness of various options of help for the presented problem. Responses for the latter aspect were quantified using a scale comprising the options of help endorsed by Sri Lankan mental health professionals. Regression analysis models were used to identify the correlates of these aspects of depression literacy. Females, medical undergraduates and those in higher years of study (compared to first-years) were more likely to recognise the problem as depression. The undergraduates obtained a mean percentage score of 76% on the constructed Depression Treatment Beliefs Scale. Scores on this scale were higher among females, medical undergraduates, those who got help for the problem after trying to deal with it alone and those who recognised the problem as depression, as well as those who used other mental health-related labels for this purpose. Scores were lower among undergraduates in years 2-4 (compared to first-years), those with family or friends with the problem and those with higher stigma on a Social Distance Scale. However, the effect sizes of these relationships were small. As factors such as gender, discipline, year of study, exposure to depression and stigma are associated with differences in the depression literacy of these undergraduates, concerning their ability to recognise the problem and their related treatment beliefs, these must be considered when designing related educational initiatives. Recognising the problem as depression or the use of other mental health-related labels is associated with better treatment beliefs as per expert consensus, indicating that such labelling could have value for appropriate help-seeking.

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Accession: 058673000

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 26518153

DOI: 10.1186/s12888-015-0658-8


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