Sustainable UNIversity Life (SUN) Study: Protocol for a Prospective Cohort Study of Modifiable Risk and Prognostic Factors for Mental Health Problems and Musculoskeletal Pain in University Students


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BMJ open. 2022 Apr 4;12(4):e056489. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-056489.


INTRODUCTION: Mental health problems and musculoskeletal pain are common health problems among young adults, including students. Little is known about the etiology and prognosis of these problems in university students. We aim to determine the role of personal, sociodemographic, academic and environmental factors in the risk and prognosis of symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress as well as musculoskeletal pain in university students. The constructs that will be studied are based on the biopsychosocial model and the psychopathology associated with disabling pain. This model recognizes that disease consists of interrelated mechanisms categorized into biological, psychological, environmental, and social signals.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This cohort study aims to recruit approximately 5,000 Swedish full-time students. Data will be collected using five online surveys over the course of an academic year. A subset (n=1851) of the cohort, recruited before the COVID-19 pandemic, receive weekly text messages with three short questions assessing mood, worry, and pain, sent via the SMS-track web platform . Statistical analyzes will include Kaplan-Meier estimates, Cox regression analyses, multinomial logistic regression analyses, and generalized estimating equations. We will assess changing the measurement of effects if appropriate and perform sensitivity analyzes to assess the impact of loss to follow-up.

PROTOCOL AMENDMENTS: Due to the timeliness and timing of the study, in connection with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, this study is additionally intended to address mental health issues, musculoskeletal pain and the lifestyle of university students before and during the pandemic.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The Sustainable UNIversity Life study has been approved by the Swedish Ethics Authority (2019-03276; 2020-01449). Results will be disseminated through peer-reviewed research articles, reports, research conferences, student theses, and communications with stakeholders.


PMID:35379630 | DO I:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-056489


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