Developing and validating a university needs instrument to measure the psychosocial needs of university students

Richard Tindle, Paola Castillo, Natalie Doring, Leigh Grant, Royce Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


Background: University students are four times more likely to experience elevated levels of psychological distress compared to their peers. The psychosocial needs of university students are associated with high psychological distress, stressful life events, and academic performance. Our study focuses on developing a measure to help universities identify these psychosocial needs. Aims: The study aimed to develop and validate the factor structure of the University Needs Instrument and identify the relationship between psychosocial needs, psychological distress and academic performance among university students. Sample Undergraduate university students (N = 511) currently studying at university. Method Participants completed demographic questions, the University Needs Instrument and the Kessler-10 Psychological Distress scale. The University Needs Instrument comprises 30 items within six psychosocial factors (academic support, financial support, support from family, support from friends, practical support and emotional support), each consisting of five items. Results: Confirmatory factor analysis showed that all items significantly loaded on the six hypothesized factors. The hypothesized model was supported by the data displaying excellent model fit and psychometric properties. Our analysis determined that the UNI has strong internal consistency. The results also confirmed that university students' high levels of psychological distress and their academic performance may be affected by their psychosocial needs. Conclusions: Our findings have provided an initial validation of the UNI to help screen and identify the psychosocial needs of university students. This scale can be used to identify the appropriate psychosocial support that can be offered to students and in turn could help reduce their psychological distress, improve their psychosocial well-being and increase academic performance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1550-1570
Number of pages21
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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