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The association between depression, anxiety and substance use among Canadian post-secondary students

Authors Esmaeelzadeh S, Moraros J, Thorpe L, Bird Y

Received 13 September 2018

Accepted for publication 6 November 2018

Published 23 November 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 3241—3251


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder

Sarvenaz Esmaeelzadeh,1 John Moraros,1 Lilian Thorpe,2 Yelena Bird1

1School of Public Health, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada; 2Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Purpose: This study aims to examine the association between depression, anxiety and substance use among Canadian post-secondary students.
Methods: This study used data from the spring 2016, American College Health Association – National College Health Assessment II (ACHA-NCHA II) survey. It includes 43,780 college students from 41 Canadian post-secondary institutions. The exposure variables of interest were alcohol, cannabis and tobacco use, and the outcome variables of interest were diagnosis or treatment for depression and/or anxiety. Descriptive statistics, univariate and multivariate logistic regression models were used to analyze our data.
Results: Our study found that 14.7% of post-secondary students were diagnosed or treated for depression and 18.4% for anxiety within the past 12 months. Among current (past 30 days) substance use, it was reported that alcohol (69.3%), cannabis (17.9%) and tobacco (11%) were the most common. There was a significant association between depression and current tobacco use (OR =1.36, 95% CI: 1.22–1.52, P<0.001) and current cannabis use (OR =1.17, 95% CI: 1.05–1.31, P<0.001). There was also a gender-specific association between anxiety and female alcohol users (OR =1.41, 95% CI: 1.24–1.62, P<0.001).
Conclusion: The results of this study found significant associations between depression, tobacco use and cannabis use, and anxiety and alcohol use among post-secondary students. These conditions should be screened concurrently for improved outcomes among this vulnerable population.

Keywords: depression, anxiety, alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, post-secondary students

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