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Procrastination in Adolescents Tied to Poorer Self-Reported Health Outcomes

Worse outcomes seen for mental health, pain, unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, and psychosocial health factors

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 5, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Procrastination is associated with subsequent poorer self-reported health outcomes in university students, according to a study published online Jan. 4 in JAMA Network Open.

Fred Johansson, from Sophiahemmet Högskola in Stockholm, and colleagues examined the association between procrastination and subsequent health outcomes (16 conditions, including mental health, pain, unhealthy lifestyle behavior, psychosocial factors, and general health) nine months later among 3,525 university students. Participants self-reported procrastination using five items from the Swedish version of the Pure Procrastination Scale. Responses ranged from 1 (“very rarely or does not represent me”) to 5 (“very often or always represents me”) and were summed for a total procrastination score ranging from 5 to 25.

The researchers found that a one-standard deviation increase in procrastination was associated with higher mean symptom levels of depression (β = 0.13), anxiety (β = 0.08), and stress (β = 0.11) and having disabling pain in the upper extremities (risk ratio, 1.27), poor sleep quality (risk ratio, 1.09), physical inactivity (risk ratio, 1.07), loneliness (risk ratio, 1.07), and economic difficulties (risk ratio, 1.15). Findings persisted after controlling for a large set of potential confounders.

“This cohort study of Swedish university students suggests that procrastination is associated with subsequent mental health problems, disabling pain, unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, and worse psychosocial health factors,” the authors write. “Considering that procrastination is prevalent among university students, these findings may be of importance to enhance the understanding of students’ health.”

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