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05/08/2023 | Pressemitteilung

This is how much illness affects studies

Those who are ill study less well - this connection is obvious, but for the first time the effect on the study workload has now been empirically established. According to a study by the University of Kassel, illness or other health restrictions are associated with a significantly lower workload. The scientists derive a recommendation for action from this.

Image: University of Kassel.

Health scientist Prof. Dr. Alfons Hollederer and his team surveyed 3,330 students at the University of Kassel online in March 2022. The results are of interest to all German universities because it is the only study of its kind to date. At the time, during the coronavirus pandemic, one fifth rated their own state of health as average, poor or very poor; around ten percent of participants stated that they were restricted in their everyday activities due to illness or disability.

Crucially, however, over a third (36.5%) of the students who were severely restricted in their everyday activities due to their health stated that their study workload was significantly less than specified. The worse the subjective state of health, the smaller the workload on average. The bottom line is that students with moderate health restrictions were 1.56 times more likely to fall short of the expected workload than students without restrictions. For students with severe restrictions, the factor was as high as 2.81. Mental and chronic illnesses correlated particularly strongly with a low workload.

"Our study is the first to investigate the empirical correlation between health restrictions and the study workload," explains Hollederer. "There is every indication that they are transferable to other universities." Although a cross-sectional survey such as this one does not prove any causal relationships, it is obvious that illnesses impair studies, but it is also conceivable that poor academic success psychosomatically promotes illnesses. In any case, health management for students could improve health and contribute to the success of studying at German universities. So far, a systematic and comprehensive approach has been lacking almost everywhere.

Hollederer is head of the Department of Theory and Empiricism of Healthcare at the University of Kassel. His study has now been published in the journal Prävention und Gesundheitsförderung.

Hollederer, A. Health and study load of students: Results of a health survey at the University of Kassel. Prevention and Health Promotion (2023).

The theoretical background:

Römhild, A.; Hollederer, A. (2023). Effects of disability-related services, accommodations, and integration on academic success of students with disabilities in higher education. A scoping review. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 1-24.