Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year
: 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 1537--1546

A comparative study of homesickness, depression, and internet addiction between native and nonnative students at University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran


Safoora Khushde1, Malihe Farhangi2, Behzad Rigi Kouteh3, Farhad Kahrazei4, Arash Ziapour5,  
1 Department of Psychology, University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Zahedan, Iran
2 Department of Psychology, Islamic Azad University Zahedan Branch, Zahedan, Iran
3 Ph.D Students in Clinical Psychology, Department of Clinical Psychology, School of Clinical Psychology, University Of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran
4 Department of Psychology, Faculty of Education Sciences & Psychology, University of Sistan & Baluchestan, Zahedan, Iran
5 Research Center for Environmental Determinants of Health, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran

Correspondence Address:
Behzad Rigi Kouteh
Department of Clinical Psychology, The Faculty of Behavioral Science, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran
Iran

Abstract

Background: Due to dealing with stress caused by transition from adolescence to adulthood, attempting to adapt themselves with various conditions, maintaining good academic performance, planning for the future, and being away from home, students often encounter high levels of anxiety. Objective: The present study aimed to compare native and nonnative students at University of Sistan and Baluchestan (Iran) considering homesickness, depression, and Internet addition. Materials and Methods: The method of this study was casual-comparative. Among all postgraduate students at University of Sistan and Baluchestan (in the academic year 2015-2016), 204 native and nonnative students were selected using the convenience sampling method and were asked to complete the Archer et al's. Homesickness Questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Young Internet Addiction Test. Results: The results indicated statistically significant differences between native and nonnative students such that nonnative students' scores on homesickness and subscales of attachment to home and dissatisfaction with being at the university, Internet addiction and subscales of salience, neglecting work, anticipation, and neglecting social life, and depression were all higher than those of native students. Considering subscales of excessive use and lack of control, no statistically significant difference was found. Conclusion: Given the obtained results, it can be concluded that nonnative students experienced higher levels of homesickness, depression, and Internet addiction. Therefore, providing theoretical and practical guidance on reducing homesickness, depression, and Internet addiction is highly suggested.



How to cite this article:
Khushde S, Farhangi M, Kouteh BR, Kahrazei F, Ziapour A. A comparative study of homesickness, depression, and internet addiction between native and nonnative students at University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran.Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:1537-1546


How to cite this URL:
Khushde S, Farhangi M, Kouteh BR, Kahrazei F, Ziapour A. A comparative study of homesickness, depression, and internet addiction between native and nonnative students at University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Iran. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Dec 12 ];10:1537-1546
Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/6/1537/222665


Full Text



 Introduction



University admission is one of the most important stages of people's educational life. Youth often leave their hometown and move to another city or province to continue their education. Most of these nonnative students moved to other cities are forced to live in dormitories. These dormitories, located in the university campus or in the city, are considered as places in which students can live, be relax, and benefit from cultural and welfare facilities through applying which the students' mental health is assured.[1]

On the other hand, moving to the university dormitories can be a very positive, new, and exciting experience for many young people. However, for some nonnative students, this shift is difficult and even unbearable.[2] In some cases, this relocation can be stressful, since students have to leave their home, family, and supportive sources. This stress, typically, leads to homesickness and creates a strong desire to return home. Although homesickness is a prevalent phenomenon experienced by most students, some students never experience it. This mostly occurs to new students and this long-lasting feeling can lead to various issues.[3]

Homesickness is a phenomenon that is often caused by relocation. Since, along with physical and mental health problems, homesickness is usually associated with issues associated with adapting to the new environment, it brings many clinical concerns.[4]

Thurber and Walton defined homesickness as a distress and functional impairment caused by a real or an anticipated separation from home and attachment to home and parents.[5] Signs of homesickness include disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and risky sexual behaviors.[6] When examining the literature review, no similar studies carried out to compare homesickness and other variables under study among native and nonnative students were found. However, in general, Fisher et al. conducted a study on a sample of 101 college freshmen and demonstrated that 60% of students experienced severe levels of homesickness.[7] In another study, Longo reported the mean scores of nonnative students on attachment to home (X = 2.58) and dissatisfaction with being at the university (X = 1.78). Studies carried out by Brewin et al. and Fisher and Hood demonstrated that the majority of students who left their hometowns and houses to continue their education experienced homesickness.[8],[9] Other studies showed that 60%–70% of nonnative students experienced homesickness. Moreover, 7%–10% of these students experienced severe homesickness which had interfered with their daily activities.[10],[11]

Dehghani et al. concluded that 94% of nonnative students living in dormitories experienced some degrees of homesickness and nearly 45% of them were frequently or always dealing with homesickness.[12] The results of Abbasnia (2000) and Adalf, Glicksman, and Demers (2001) indicated that the level of nonnative students' dissatisfaction with being at the university was high and this dissatisfaction was associated with academic difficulties and the probability of dropping out of the university.[13]

Over the past decade, academic and consulting centers, attempting to provide counseling services for students, reported high prevalence of severe mental problems in this population. According to a national survey conducted in 724 consulting centers,[14] 85% of students suffer from severe mental problems. These problems, including learning disabilities (71%), self-injury incidents (51%), eating disorders (38%), alcohol abuse problems (45%), abusing other drugs (49%), concerns about sexual assault on the campus (33%), and problems related to sexual abuse (34%), were examined and indicated that 16% of students suffered from severe mental problems.[15] One of the major problems in this population which has a growing trend is depression. Disorders related to depression have increased at a rapid pace and affect people of all communities.[16] A combination of genetic factors, stress at early ages, and continuous stress can determine an individual's vulnerability to mental disorders including depression.[17]

Due to dealing with stress caused by transition from adolescence to adulthood, attempting to adapt themselves with various conditions, maintaining good academic performance, planning for the future, and being away from home, students often encounter high levels of anxiety. Due to this stress, many students experience depression.[18]

Depression manifests itself in many activities through low mood and/or loss of pleasure and willingness.[19] In addition, this disorder is associated with a range of emotional, cognitive, physical, and behavioral symptoms including sadness, negative thoughts, sleep disorders, thought disorders, loss of appetite, and low levels of energy.[20] Depression affects 8%–12% of the general population each year, and as predicted by the World Health Organization by 2020, depression will become the second leading cause of disability.[21] The results of a study conducted on Canadian students showed that a significant number of students (33%) reported clinical symptoms of depression.[22]

Other studies indicated that not being familiar with the campus in the early arrivals, leaving the family, being away from the family, being incompatible with other people in the new living condition, and not having sufficient economic and welfare facilities were all among factors which can predispose people to various mental problems and disorders including depression.[23] In their study aimed to examine mental health among native and nonnative university students, Heidari and Maktabi found that native students had higher levels of mental health and experienced less loneliness compared to nonnative students.[24]

The results of a study carried out by Khoshkhatti et al. to examine the level of prevalence of depression among incoming college freshmen revealed that the prevalence of depression among university students was 9.4%. Additionally, considering the prevalence of depression, there was a significant difference between native and nonnative students such that nonnative students experienced higher levels of depression.[25] The findings of Ildarabadi et al., aimed to investigate the prevalence of depression among students at Zabol University, indicated that 35.7% of students did not experience depression, 19.1% of them experienced mild depression, 13.4% of them were on the borderline of depression, 24.2% of students suffered from moderate depression, 6.4% of them experienced severe depression, and 1.3% of students suffered from very severe depression. A total of 64.3% of students suffered from various degrees of depression; however, the prevalence of depression was higher among native students compared to nonnative students.[26]

The findings of a study carried out by Gilavand et al. to examine anxiety and depression among native and nonnative university students demonstrated that there were no significant differences between native and nonnative students with regard to anxiety and depression. This lack of significant difference between these two groups under study was probably due to the small sample size which only included 62 students (31 native students and 31 nonnative students).[27] Moreover, in a study conducted by Rezaei et al., aimed to examine the prevalence of depression among university students, the obtained results showed that 55% of students suffered from various degrees of depression, while others (45%) did not experience depression. Among students suffered from depression, 24% of them suffered from mild depression, 25.2% of them suffered from moderate depression, 3.2% of them suffered from severe depression, and 1.4% of them suffered from very severe depression. In addition, no significant correlation was found between being native and/or nonnative and depression.[28]

Among other issues with which nonnative students may face, because of studying in another city far from their hometown and being away from their home and family, is Internet addiction.[29] The Internet is one of the major tools used in the teaching and learning process which facilitates access to the information.[30]

The rapid growth of the Internet is associated with people's need and motivations. Enabling easy access to information, aiding people to communicate in an easy way, and providing entertainments are all among the undeniable advantages of using the Internet. However, excessive or unadjusted use of the Internet is correlated with a disorder, which, according to Morahan–Martin, is called Internet abuse. This disorder refers to the patterns of Internet use which result in the disruption of people's live, while they are not associated with a particular disease or an addictive behavior. Some researchers and specialists prefer to use the term Internet addiction to refer to this disease as a form of impulse control disorder.[31]

According to Young (1998), the term addiction can be applied for Internet users, since symptoms of Internet addiction are similar to those of addiction to alcohol and cigarettes. The relevant criteria used to define Internet addiction include being preoccupied with the Internet, using the Internet in increasing amounts of time, attempting unsuccessfully to cut back or stop using the Internet, feeling irritable when attempting to cut down or decrease the amount of using the Internet, being online longer than originally intended, jeopardizing or risking loss of significant relationships due to the Internet use, lying to hide the extent of involvement with the Internet, and using the Internet as a way to escape from problems.[32] Few studies have compared Internet addiction between native and nonnative students. However, conducted studies on students reflected this fact that the amount of Internet use and the incidence and prevalence of Internet addiction are increasing.[33],[34]

The results of a study carried out in Turkey showed that 72.2% of students used the Internet for creating and maintaining their social friendships, 46% of them applied it because of their loneliness, 44% of them used the Internet for educational use, and 38.2% of them used it for entertainment.[34] In a study conducted on university students in Semnan Province, Khatib Zanjani and Agah Harris revealed that 23.8% of students suffered from mild Internet addiction and 1.8% of them suffered from severe Internet addiction. Aiming to compare the status of Internet addiction among students, Hosseini Beheshtian indicated that students who did not live in dormitories were more addicted to the Internet compared to those who lived in dormitories. These results were obtained considering the limited access, low speed of the Internet, and the ability to access the Internet in different places of the dormitory and university. Moreover, this study showed that 8.9% of students, i.e., 9.5% of female students and 8.3% of male students were addicted to the Internet. Overall, given the criticality of this period and the stress with which university students deal during their student life, especially nonnative students who are faced with depression and anxiety caused by being away from their home and family,[35] and since students are the largest and the most important group of people who use Internet services and facilities, examining undesirable consequences of excessive use of this technology, such as decreasing self-esteem, decreasing verbal and nonverbal skills, reducing listening skills, and decreasing interpersonal communications, which can affect young people seem essential.

Objective

In this regard, the present study aimed to compare homesickness, depression, and Internet addiction between native and nonnative students at University of Sistan and Baluchestan. Given the topic and objectives of the current study and considering the theoretical foundations and conducted studies, the following research questions are raised:

What is the prevalence of depression and Internet addition among native and nonnative students?Is there any significant difference between native and nonnative students considering homesickness?Is there any significant difference between native and nonnative students considering the level of depression?Is there any significant difference between native and nonnative students considering Internet addiction?

 Materials and Methods



The method of this study was casual-comparative. The statistical population of this study included all postgraduate students at University of Sistan and Baluchestan (Iran) in the academic year 2015–2016 (n = 1700). Among all these native and nonnative students studying in University of Sistan and Baluchestan, 204 students (102 native students and 102 nonnative students) were selected using the convenience sampling method. After collecting the questionnaires, the data were obtained and analyzed. The following questionnaires were applied in the current study.

 The Archer Et al. Homesickness Questionnaire



This questionnaire was designed by Archer et al. (1998) to evaluate homesickness among university students. The original questionnaire has 23 items and 2 subscales including attachment to home and dissatisfaction with being at the university. This is a self-reported questionnaire. Participants answer the questions based on a 5-point Likert-type scale (ranging from 1 = very low to 5 = very high). Given the statistical results related to the Iranian version of this questionnaire, three items were eliminated and the final version includes thirty items, each subscale is examined by 15 items. Items number 4, 9, 15, and 30 are scored inversely.

Attachment to home: Items 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 16, 19, 21, 22, 25, and 27Dissatisfaction with being at the university: Items 4, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 20, 23, 24, 26, 28, 29, and 30.

In a study conducted by Archer et al., the Cronbach's alpha coefficients related to attachment to home and dissatisfaction with being at the university were, respectively, 0.83 and 0.85, indicating that this questionnaire has a good internal consistency.[36] In another study carried out by Ghanbari et al. (2013), the obtained Cronbach's alpha coefficients related to attachment to home and dissatisfaction with being at the university were 0.90 and 0.82, respectively. The correlation coefficients calculated twice within 3 weeks indicated that the correlation coefficient of the whole scale was 0.81 and the correlation coefficients of attachment to home and dissatisfaction with being at the university were, respectively, 0.83 and 0.78, showing an acceptable test–retest reliability of this questionnaire.[37] Besharat et al. evaluated the concurrent validity between this questionnaire's test scores and those of the general health questionnaire (GHQ). The correlation between these two tests was 0.85.[38] In the present study, the Cronbach's alpha coefficient was used to calculate this questionnaire's reliability, the result of which was 0.85 for the whole scale.

 The Beck Depression Inventory-21)



This inventory was developed by Beck et al. and was revised in 1978 to assess and measure depression. This inventory included 21 items which are developed based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria to evaluate emotional, cognitive, motivational, and physiological aspects of depression. Each of the items (symptoms) has four degrees which are scored from 0 (the lowest level) to 3 (the highest level of depression). The minimum and maximum scores are, respectively, 0 and 63. This inventory is used to evaluate the severity of depression in people older than 13 years. Scores in the range of 0–9 indicate the minimum depression, 10–18 demonstrate mild depression, 20–29 show moderate depression, and scores in the range of 30–63 reveal severe depression.[39] In a study conducted by Rahimi, the results indicated that the Beck Depression Inventory has a high internal consistency (α = 0.78) and has an acceptable reliability over time (0.73). Moreover, the simultaneous implementation of this inventory with GHQ-28 and the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale-21 indicated that this inventory has a good concurrent validity.[40] In the present study, to evaluate the reliability of this inventory, the Cronbach's alpha coefficient was used, the result of which was 0.92 for the whole scale.

 The Young Internet Addiction Test



This test was developed by Young (1998) and has twenty items which evaluate Internet addiction. Respondents should answer the items based on a 6-point Likert-type scale including non (1), sometimes (2), often (3), usually (4), always (5), and not applicable (0). The scores range from 0 to 100. Higher scores indicate higher levels of Internet addiction. This test has six subscales including salience (items 10, 12, 13, 15, and 19), excessive use (items 1, 2, 14, 18, and 20), neglecting work or procrastination (items 6, 8, and 9), anticipation or the impact on the performance (items 7 and 11), lack of control (items 5, 16, and 17), and neglecting social life (items 3 and 4). After determining the final scores, the user's status is characterized as follows: scores below 20 indicate lack of addiction (nonuser), scores in the range of 20–49 show normal use, scores in the range of 50–79 demonstrate mild addiction (people at risk), and scores in the range of 80–100 indicate severe addiction.[41] Widyanto, Griffiths, and Brunsden (2011) examined the reliability of this test. The statistical analysis indicated that the correlation coefficient between the grading scale and the Internet Addiction Test was 0.89. Using the Cronbach's alpha coefficient, in the current study, the reliability of this test was obtained as 0.92. In the current study, the obtained data were analyzed using multivariate analysis of variance and t-test.

 Results



The results indicated that a total of 204 students (102 native and 102 nonnative students) participated in this study. The results of the first question (what is the prevalence of depression and Internet addiction among native and nonnative students at University of Sistan and Baluchestan?) are presented in [Table 1].{Table 1}

[Table 1] indicates that, among 204 students, 14 students (6.9%) experience minimum degree of depression, 19 students (9.3%) suffer from mild depression, 46 students (22.5%) suffer from moderate depression, and 125 students (61.3) suffer from severe depression. Moreover, 31 students (15.2%) are nonusers, 112 students (54.9%) are normal users, 53 students (26%) suffer from mild Internet addiction, and 8 students (3.9%) suffer from severe Internet addiction. The results related to being native and nonnative are presented as follows. Among native students, 14 students (13.7%) experience minimum degree of depression, 19 students (18.6%) experience mild depression, 32 students (31.4%) suffer from moderate depression, and 37 students (63.3%) suffer from severe depression. Additionally, 20 native students (19.6%) are nonusers, 55 students (53.9%) are normal users, 24 students (23.5%) suffer from mild Internet addiction, and 3 students (2.9%) suffer from sever Internet addiction. Among nonnative students, 14 students (13.7%) suffer from moderate depression and 88 students (86.3%) suffer from severe depression. Additionally, 11 nonnative students (10.8%) are nonusers, 57 students (55.9%) are normal users, 29 students (28.4%) suffer from mild Internet addiction, and 5 students (4.9%) suffer from sever Internet addiction.

To answer the second research question, i.e., is there any significant difference between native and nonnative students considering homesickness?, the means and standard deviations related to homesickness are presented in [Table 2].{Table 2}

According to [Table 3], the results of multivariate analysis of variance (Wilks' Lambda) with controlled variables indicate that these two groups (native and nonnative students) have multiple significant effects on the dimensions of homesickness (P F = 5.946, P F = 82.298, P F = 36.296, P post hoc test was used, the results of which are presented in [Table 5]. The results show that mean scores of nonnative students on homesickness and its subscales (attachment to home and dissatisfaction with being at the university) are higher than those of native students (P t = 10.896, P = 0.0001) [Table 6].{Table 6}

Moreover, to answer the fourth research question, i.e., is there any significant difference between native and nonnative students considering Internet addiction?, the means and standard deviations related to dimensions of Internet addiction are presented in [Table 7].{Table 7}

According to [Table 8], the results of multivariate analysis of variance (Wilks' Lambda) with controlled variables indicate that these two groups (native and nonnative students) have multiple significant effects on dimensions of Internet addiction (P F = 11.915, P F = 5.194, P F = 5.532, P F = 6.132, P F = 7.129, P P > 0.007) [Table 9].{Table 9}

To illustrate the difference between these two groups with regard to subscales of Internet addiction, LSD post hoc test was used, the results of which are presented in [Table 10]. The results show that mean scores of nonnative students on salience, neglecting work, anticipation, neglecting social life, and their total score on Internet addiction are higher than those of native students (P et al. and Ildarabadi et al. which indicated that the prevalence rates of mild and moderate depression were higher than that of severe depression.[26],[28] The high prevalence of severe depression in the current study may be due to the fact that the number of educational, health, welfare, and recreational facilities in Zahedan is less than that in other cities. Moreover, 15.2% of students were nonusers, 54.9% of them were normal users, 26% of them experienced mild Internet addiction, and 3.9% of them suffered from severe depression. These findings are consistent with the results of Khatib Zanjani and Agah Harris.[42) This high number of normal users can be explained by considering the level of access, accessible facilities, and family and cultural barriers.

According to this study, nonnative students, compared to native students, obtained higher scores on homesickness and subscales of attachment to home and dissatisfaction with being at the university. As mentioned earlier, no similar studies were conducted to examine the differences between native and nonnative students with regard to homesickness. However, the results of the current study are consistent with other researches [6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12] which demonstrated that a high number of nonnative students experienced homesickness when they entered the university. These findings can be explained in this way that many students may be away from their home and family for the first time in their lives. This sudden departure from their house, being away from their family, meeting new people at the university, and also getting to know a new culture and a different environment can challenge students' lives. Therefore, it is normal that incoming students feel some degrees of attachment to home when they move to a new city. Additionally, it should be noted that, due to enforcing extreme rules in dormitories and controlling most individual and personal aspects of students' lives including their personal relationships, the way they dress, the time they go out and come in, lack of welfare and economic facilities, and many other reasons, students feel unsatisfied with their lives and do not have a sense of belonging and attachment to the university and dormitory.

In this study, nonnative students, compared to native students, obtained higher scores on depression. This is in line with the results of Peluso et al., Retteck, Heidari and Maktabi, and Khoshkhatti et al.[20],[23],[24],[25] and is not consistent with the findings of Golavand et al., Ildarabadi et al., and Rezaei et al.[26],[27],[28] To explain this finding, it can be noted that some factors including being unfamiliar with the campus and culture of the city in which the university is located, being away from the family and friends, living in dormitories, being in a new relationship network, being inconsistence with the new environment and being unable to adapt to the new environment, being dissatisfied with the field of study and/or with the educational practices, and the like can cause various mental problems for nonnative students and lead to their poor academic performance.

Accordingly, considering the results obtained from this study, nonnative students, compared to native students, gained higher scores on Internet addiction and subscales of salience, neglecting work, anticipation, and neglecting social life. Few studies have been carried out to examine the issue; however, in general, studies conducted by Shahbazirad and Mirderikvand, Siomos et al., Orsal et al., and Khatib Zanjani and Agah Harris [29],[33],[34],[42] reported high prevalence of various degrees of Internet addiction among university students, especially among those who were away from their home and family. However, Hosseini Beheshtian concluded that students who did not live in dormitories were more addicted to the Internet compared to those who lived in dormitories.[43] Overall, obtaining higher scores on Internet addiction by nonnative students in the current study can be explained in this way that those nonnative students feel more loneliness and this loneliness leads them to avoid social contacts.[24] Therefore, it is really normal that students, as a result of this loneliness and low levels of social communications, use the Internet as a method to deal with their loneliness and be obsessed with it, due to the amazing, dynamic, attractive, and adventurous topics on the Internet and easy access, for a long time. Moreover, it can be stated that being away from the family, being in another city, and receiving less social support from the family and friends can be considered as the main factors affecting harmful use of the Internet. Additionally, to explain this finding that no significant difference was found between these two groups considering excessive use and lack of control, it can be stated that, since the Internet has become the most effective educational tool used for learning and promoting academic fields, particularly for students, students become more dependent on this technology than the last two decades. In fact, excessive use of the Internet to facilitate the educational and research activities has become the norm among students.

 Conclusion



This study faced with various limitations among which the following can be mentioned. Since the sample of the current study only included postgraduate students at University of Sistan and Baluchestan, caution should be taken when generalizing the obtained findings to other populations and universities. Moreover, use of self-report questionnaires, the possibility of choosing inaccurate responses by the respondents, lack of conducting interviews, and the fact that this study was a cross-sectional study were all among the limitations of the present study. A short history of Internet addiction and lack of studies conducted on nonnative students were among other limitations of this study. Therefore, examining Internet addiction and its consequences requires conducting more detailed longitudinal studies. Considering the mentioned limitations and results obtained from this study, it is suggested that future studies pay special attention to the prevalence of Internet addiction among nonnative students. In addition, carrying out studies in other populations, applying tools including conducting interviews, and conducting longitudinal studies aimed to examine the Internet addiction are highly recommended. With regard to the results of the current study which indicated the high prevalence of homesickness, depression, and Internet addiction among nonnative students, paying special attention to the mental health of students in universities is highly recommended. Therefore, providing welfare facilities, determining the causes of mental problems in students, and considering suitable solutions and strategies to prevent these mental problems are of significant importance.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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