Title

An Investigation of Occupational Balance: United States University Students’ Time Use Patterns in Relation to Levels of Depression, Anxiety and Alcohol Use

Location

Charles Frost

Start Time

17-10-2014 5:30 PM

End Time

17-10-2014 6:00 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

A developing body of research aims to address the concepts surrounding occupational (or lifestyle) balance. Occupational balance has been described as a congruency of work, productivity, leisure, self-care, and rest which is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and satisfaction (Backman, 2004; Matuska & Christiansen, 2009; Wilcock et al., 1997). One study of university students found their main impediments to achieving occupational balance were personal and interpersonal influences, time constraints, and financial factors (Wilson & Wilcock, 2005). Annual national USA surveys consistently indicate university students report excessive stress, sleep deficits, depression, and alcohol misuse, all of which were noted as impediments to their academic performance (ACHA, 2009). This research study aimed to not only document university students’ time use patterns and levels of anxiety, depression and alcohol use, but to also infer relationships between these factors. HSIRB approval was secured and all students enrolled at a large urban public university in the Midwest USA were eligible for the study. Researchers visited 6 large classroom buildings at variable times/days during a one-week period mid-semester in order to survey a broad range of subjects. Subjects voluntarily completed the self-report survey and then received a $10 gift card. Data included basic demographic information and 3 self-report screening tools (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-3). Subjects also completed a time use questionnaire to self-estimate time spent on a weekly basis in 25 areas of occupation. The questionnaire was developed by the lead author based upon the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework- 2nd edition and had been pilot-tested. Research assistants were trained on administering/scoring the surveys. Preliminary statistical data analysis (utilizing SPSS) from N= 306 subjects showed a mean age of 23, and were 53% male and 55% Caucasian. High levels of anxiety, depression, and alcohol use were found. Preliminary statistical analysis of time use patterns indicated occupational imbalance for the students. Further analysis is in progress. This study adds to the growing body of occupational science literature to document and explore the negative implications of occupational imbalance. Such imbalance may adversely affect a student’s sense of competency and enjoyment of activities, and is associated with feelings of depression and anxiety and alcohol misuse, which is a serious social issue at universities.

Key Words:

University Students; Time Use/Occupational Balance; Mental Health

References

American College Health Association (2009). ACHA -National College Health Assessment, Spring 2008. Journal of American College Health, 57, 477-488.

Backman, C.L. (2004). Occupational balance: Exploring the relationships among daily occupations and their influence on well-being. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71, 202-209.

Matuska, K.M. & Christiansen, C. (2009). A theoretical model of life balance and imbalance. In K. Matuska & C. Christiansen (Eds.) Life balance: Multidisciplinary theories and research (pp 149-164. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK & AOTA Press.

Wilcock, A. A., et al (1997). The relationship between occupational balance and health: A pilot study. Occupational Therapy International, 4, 17-30.

Wilson, L. & Wilcock, A. (2005). Occupational balance: What tips the scales for new students? British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 68, 319-323.

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Oct 17th, 5:30 PM Oct 17th, 6:00 PM

An Investigation of Occupational Balance: United States University Students’ Time Use Patterns in Relation to Levels of Depression, Anxiety and Alcohol Use

Charles Frost

A developing body of research aims to address the concepts surrounding occupational (or lifestyle) balance. Occupational balance has been described as a congruency of work, productivity, leisure, self-care, and rest which is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and satisfaction (Backman, 2004; Matuska & Christiansen, 2009; Wilcock et al., 1997). One study of university students found their main impediments to achieving occupational balance were personal and interpersonal influences, time constraints, and financial factors (Wilson & Wilcock, 2005). Annual national USA surveys consistently indicate university students report excessive stress, sleep deficits, depression, and alcohol misuse, all of which were noted as impediments to their academic performance (ACHA, 2009). This research study aimed to not only document university students’ time use patterns and levels of anxiety, depression and alcohol use, but to also infer relationships between these factors. HSIRB approval was secured and all students enrolled at a large urban public university in the Midwest USA were eligible for the study. Researchers visited 6 large classroom buildings at variable times/days during a one-week period mid-semester in order to survey a broad range of subjects. Subjects voluntarily completed the self-report survey and then received a $10 gift card. Data included basic demographic information and 3 self-report screening tools (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-3). Subjects also completed a time use questionnaire to self-estimate time spent on a weekly basis in 25 areas of occupation. The questionnaire was developed by the lead author based upon the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework- 2nd edition and had been pilot-tested. Research assistants were trained on administering/scoring the surveys. Preliminary statistical data analysis (utilizing SPSS) from N= 306 subjects showed a mean age of 23, and were 53% male and 55% Caucasian. High levels of anxiety, depression, and alcohol use were found. Preliminary statistical analysis of time use patterns indicated occupational imbalance for the students. Further analysis is in progress. This study adds to the growing body of occupational science literature to document and explore the negative implications of occupational imbalance. Such imbalance may adversely affect a student’s sense of competency and enjoyment of activities, and is associated with feelings of depression and anxiety and alcohol misuse, which is a serious social issue at universities.

Key Words:

University Students; Time Use/Occupational Balance; Mental Health