Eating disorder risk in postsecondary students: assessing perceptions of health as a function of social support

Stuckless, Jodi (2023) Eating disorder risk in postsecondary students: assessing perceptions of health as a function of social support. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Eating disorders (EDs) are complex mental illnesses characterized by disturbances in eating behaviours, involving damaging associations with food, eating, exercise, body image, and weight. In Canada, the estimated prevalence rate is between 2% to 3% of the general population, with more than 1.7 million Canadians suffering an ED. The prevalence of EDs is greater among university students, which occurs at a time when they typically face a variety of other unique life challenges, and mental health issues that may compromise positive mental health (PMH). Among a variety of factors, social support holds much promise for scientific inquiry with respect to the degree that it might predict such things as ED risk, symptoms, behaviors, and recovery. Data associated with a sample of 2,293 Canadian university students collected in the National College Health Assessment survey were analyzed. Overall, 4.9% of the sample were diagnosed with an ED while approximately 25% of the entire sample were deemed at ED risk. Two-factor chi-square tests revealed that those in ED risk sample were more likely to report poorer academic performance, problems with family and peer relationships, and significantly less likely to report a sense of connection to community compared to the non-risk sample. A hierarchical regression revealed that the Social Provision Scale subscales of social integration and reassurance accounted for 26.2% of additional variance in PMH after controlling for age, GPA, family income, international student status, and sex. These results are discussed in terms of their clinical relevance in the psychological treatment and understanding of EDs.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 16182
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 47-74)
Keywords: social support, eating disorders, postsecondary
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: July 2023
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Eating disorders—Canada; Mental health—Canada; College students--Mental health--Canada; College students--Mental Health--Canada; Social networks--Canada; College students--Social networks--Canada

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