Social cognitive intervention reduces stress in Hungarian university students

Éva Bíró, Ilona Veres-Balajti, R. Ádány, Karolina Kósa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


A social cognitive intervention was developed and delivered as a credit course to improve mental distress of university students, based on findings in a previous health survey showing notable mental distress among future teachers in Hungary in 2007. The intervention included increasing information on psychoactive substances used for stress reduction; skills development in stress reduction methods; improving skills in communication and problem-solving. All students who participated in the previous health survey were targeted. Mental status of the participants was assessed by a questionnaire before (n: 128, 22% male, mean age 23.21 years) and after (n: 148, 30% male, mean age 23.54 years) the intervention. Specifically, self-efficacy as outcome was approximated by a trait measure (sense of coherence); psychological distress was measured by the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (Goldberg et al., 1997. The validity of two versions of the GHQ in the WHO study of mental illness in general health care. Psychological Medicine, 27, 191-197) after the intervention compared with that before. After the intervention, psychological distress was reduced among the participants (p: 0.013). Non-significant improvement occurred in the mean score for sense of coherence (from a mean 60.8 points before to 61.4 points after, p: 0.688). The intervention produced a modest but significant decrease in psychological distress in students at a cost of 54 US$ per 1 point improvement in mental distress. The intervention, a first example of the translation of the social cognitive theory into practice among students in higher education can be integrated into the curriculum as a standardized optional course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-78
Number of pages6
JournalHealth Promotion International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017


  • Mental health
  • Social cognitive intervention
  • University students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Medicine(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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