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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Understanding the treatment disparities in college students experiencing mental health problems : a meta-analysis and regression analysis Pei, Julia


College students experience high rates of mental health problems. While college contexts can provide an opportunity for early intervention, college students report low treatment rates. Further, a range of sociodemographic disparities in the rates of mental health treatment among students experiencing mental health problems have been identified. This thesis aimed to quantify the magnitude of these treatment disparities, identify the sub-groups of students experiencing the largest treatment disparities, and identify the stage(s) of the treatment-seeking pathway through which these disparities emerge. First, a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature was conducted. Pooled prevalence ratios of receiving treatment, conditional on experiencing a mental health problem, were calculated for each sociodemographic disparity identified in the literature. Next, a regression analysis of survey data from four Canadian universities was conducted to quantify the disparities at two stages of the treatment-seeking pathway, among students experiencing a mental health problem. Odds ratios of 1) having a perceived need for treatment and 2) receiving treatment, conditional on having a perceived need were calculated for a range of sociodemographic characteristics. The first study identified a range of significant sociodemographic disparities in the treatment rates of students experiencing mental health problems, with the largest disparities based on race and ethnicity, international student status, sex, and gender. Results from the second study suggest that disparities based on gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, and parental education emerge through differences at both stages of the treatment pathway, whereas disparities based on international student status and level of financial stress predominately emerge through differences at the second stage of the pathway. Together, these findings highlight the need for targeted efforts to promote equitable access to mental health treatment in student populations and inform the sub-groups and corresponding stages of the treatment-seeking pathway to target in said efforts.

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