University student well-being in the United Kingdom: A scoping review of its conceptualisation and measurement

Alyson Dodd, Michael Priestley, Katie Tyrrell, Sebastien Cygan, Catherine Newell, Nicola Byrom

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Background: Well-being is a multifaceted construct, and measuring well-being, both within particular groups and at a national level, is a priority for policy and practice. This national agenda on measuring well-being is mirrored in the Higher Education sector. This is the first conceptual review of how well-being is measured among university students in the UK. Aims: The aims of the review were to identify i) the definitions or conceptualisations of well-being guiding the selection of well-being indicators for research within this population and ii) measures of well-being used in university students in the UK. Methods: A scoping review method was used. Results: Twenty-eight validated indicators used to measure well-being in UK students were identified. While many were direct measures of (primarily mental or psychological) well-being, indirect ‘proxy’ indicators, including measures of mental health symptoms, were identified. Conclusions: This review has highlighted that there are inconsistencies in defining and measuring university student well-being, and the measures that have been used in this population are focused on subjective experience. These findings are in line with reviews of well-being measures in the general population. Implications for further research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Jan 2021


  • Well-being
  • Higher Education
  • University student
  • Scoping review
  • Measurement


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