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07-09-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 12/2019

Journal of Child and Family Studies 12/2019

The Prevalence and Associated Factors of Depression, Anxiety and Stress of First Year Undergraduate Students in a Public Higher Learning Institution in Malaysia

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 12/2019
Nurul Syafika Amir Hamzah, Nik Daliana Nik Farid, Abqariyah Yahya, Caroline Chin, Tin Tin Su, Sanjay Rampal Lekhraj Rampal, Maznah Dahlui
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A correction to this article is available online at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10826-019-01588-1.
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While university life is characterized by the pursuit of greater educational opportunities and employment prospects, it can also be a trigger of mental health problems. This study aims to: (a) measure the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and stress among first-year undergraduate students in the University of Malaya, and; (b) determine the associated factors of depression, anxiety, and stress.


This cross-sectional study consisted of two phases: survey administration and physical assessment. In the first phase, data were collected electronically using a mobile application during the orientation week. The Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) questionnaire was employed to assess respondents’ mental health status. In the second phase, anthropometric measurements which included height, weight, waist circumference, and blood pressure were taken.


Of 1602 students, the prevalence of moderate to extremely severe depression was 21% (n = 341), anxiety 50% (n = 793), and stress 12% (n = 197). Findings showed that students who lived with non-family members were more likely to develop depression (OR: 1.846, 95% CI: 1.266–2.693), anxiety (OR: 1.529, 95% CI: 1.024–2.284), and stress (OR: 1.655, 95% CI: 1.110–2.468). Those with previous medical history were more likely to have anxiety (OR: 1.697, 95% CI: 1.097–2.626). Interestingly, students from the Southern region (OR: 0.667, 95% CI: 0.468–0.950) and from Sabah and Sarawak (OR: 0.503, 95% CI: 0.281–0.900) were less likely to report depression.


Future intervention programs should follow the socio-ecological model while addressing university students’ mental health needs.

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