Validating a modified instrument for measuring Demand-Control-Support among students at a large university in southern Sweden

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University students experience a distinct working environment in the context of completing their studies. In line with existing research into the connection between workplace environment and stress, it is rational to believe that such study environments can affect the level of stress that students experience. However, few instruments have been developed for measuring this.

The aim of this study was to validate a modified instrument based on the Demand-Control-Support (DCS) model among students at a large university in southern Sweden to determine its utility for assessing the psychosocial properties of the study environment.

Data from a survey performed at a Swedish university in 2019, which generated 8960 valid cases, was used. Of these cases, 5410 studied a course or programme at bachelor level, 3170 a course or programme at master level, and 366 a combination of courses and programmes on the two levels (14 missing). A 22-item DCS-instrument for students was used comprising four scales: Psychological workload (demand) with nine items, Decision latitude (control) with eight items, supervisor/lecturer support with four items, and colleague/student support with three items. Construct validity was examined using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and internal consistency using Cronbach’s alpha.

The results of the exploratory factor analysis of the Demand-Control components support a 3-dimension solution with dimensions corresponding to psychological demands, skill discretion, and decision authority in the original DCS model. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were acceptable for Control (0.60) and Student Support (0.72) and very good for the Demand and Supervisor Support scales (0.81 and 0.84, respectively).

The results suggest that the validated 22-item DCS-instrument is a reliable and valid tool for assessing Demand, Control, and Support elements of the psychosocial study environment among student populations. Further research is necessary to examine the predictive validity of this modified instrument.
TidskriftGlobal Health Action
StatusPublished - 2023 juni 26

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Folkhälsovetenskap, global hälsa, socialmedicin och epidemiologi


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