Prevalence of stress references on college freshmen Facebook profiles.

Research paper by Katie G KG Egan, Megan A MA Moreno

Indexed on: 26 Mar '11Published on: 26 Mar '11Published in: Computers, informatics, nursing : CIN


Stress is common among college students and associated with adverse health outcomes. This study used the social networking Web site Facebook to identify self-reported stress and associated conditions among college students. Public Facebook profiles of undergraduate freshman at a large Midwestern State University (n = 300) were identified using a Facebook search. Content analysis of Facebook profiles included demographic information and displayed references to stress, weight concerns, depressive symptoms, and alcohol. The mean reported age was 18.4 years, and the majority of profile owners were female (62%). Stress references were displayed on 37% of the profiles, weight concerns on 6%, depressive symptoms on 24%, and alcohol on 73%. The display of stress references was associated with female sex (odds ratio [OR], 2.81; confidence interval [CI], 1.7-4.7), weight concerns (OR, 5.36; CI, 1.87-15.34), and depressive symptoms (OR, 2.7; CI, 1.57-4.63). No associations were found between stress and alcohol references. College freshmen frequently display references to stress on Facebook profiles with prevalence rates similar to self-reported national survey data. Findings suggest a positive association between referencing stress and both weight concerns and depressive symptoms. Facebook may be a useful venue to identify students at risk for stress-related conditions and to disseminate information about campus resources to these students.