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Measuring PhD Student’s Psychological Well-being: Are we seeing the whole picture?


The psychological well-being of PhD students has become of interest after reports of high levels of psychological distress and mental illness amongst these students. In an attempt to measure psychological well-being among PhD students, some studies have used instruments that measure constructs related to well-being, most commonly psychological distress, whilst overlooking some aspects of well-being. This review used a systematic approach to identify instruments used to measure PhD students in research and evaluate their quality. The search strategy identified 19 articles for inclusion. Most studies measured constructs related to well-being, mainly mental illness symptoms, or constructs associated with subjective well-being and self-determination theory. Few studies measured aspects of psychological well-being. Furthermore, few questionnaires were validated for this population and many measures had no validity or reliability information available. Future research should use good quality measures to assess overlooked aspects and provide a comprehensive assessment of well-being in this student group.

Published: 2019-12-12
Pages:14 to 24
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How to Cite
Scott, H., & Takarangi, M. K. T. (2019). Measuring PhD Student’s Psychological Well-being: Are we seeing the whole picture?. Student Success, 10(3), 14-24.

Author Biographies

Flinders University
Australia Australia

Ms Hannah Scott's research investigates sleep disturbance, particularly insomnia, and how it relates to daytime functioning. She is particularly interested in the bi-directional relationship between sleep and mental health, and how sleep interventions improve daytime functioning and overall well-being.

Flinders University
Australia Australia

Dr Melanie Takarangi’s research focuses on the cognitive processes—particularly how people remember personal experiences—that influence psychological health and well-being. She has a particular interest in populations who are vulnerable based on their exposure to stress and/or trauma, and in developing pathways for people that improve well-being and adaptive functioning in everyday life. 

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795