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OBJECTIVE: To explore social and behavioural factors associated with depressive symptoms among university students in Cambodia.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study.

SETTINGS: Two public universities-one in the capital city of Phnom Penh and another in Battambang provincial town.

PARTICIPANTS: This study included 1359 students randomly selected from all departments in the two universities using a multistage cluster sampling method for a self-administered questionnaire survey in 2015.

PRIMARY OUTCOME MEASURE: Depressive symptoms measured by using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale. All measures in the study were self-reported.

RESULTS: The proportion of students with depressive symptoms and severe depressive symptoms were 50.6% and 19.6%, respectively. After adjustment in multivariate logistic regression analysis, depressive symptoms remained significantly associated with poor academic performance (adjusted OR (AOR)=7.31, 95% CI 2.24 to 23.86), higher consumption of unhealthy food (AOR=1.72, 95% CI 1.08 to 2.76), a negative self-perception about body shape (AOR=0.54, 95% CI 0.29 to 0.99) and general health status (AOR=2.99, 95% CI 1.28 to 7.00), and limited physical activeness (AOR=0.30, 95% CI 0.16 to 0.58). Depressive symptoms also remained significantly associated with adverse childhood experiences including physical violence (AOR=1.39, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.86), psychological abuse (AOR=1.82, 95% CI 1.37 to 2.42) and lack of general and medical care (AOR=0.51, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.86) by family during childhood.

CONCLUSIONS: The key factors associated with depressive symptoms were family related and individual behaviours and attitudes. Thus, efforts should be invested in comprehensive screening and intervention programmes to diagnose those vulnerable students early, offer immediate treatment and cater appropriate support.

Publisher's Statement

Originally published in BMJ Open, 8 [Article e019918]. The original material can be found here.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License