Biopsychosocial Factors Associated with Depression among U.S. Undergraduate International Students




biopsychosocial model, depression, international students, United States


Using a biopsychosocial framework, our study examined the biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors associated with depression among a cross-sectional sample of undergraduate international students (N = 712) attending 28 U.S. colleges and universities. Consistent with hypotheses, regression analysis revealed that self-esteem, life satisfaction, and coping self-efficacy were negatively associated with depressive symptoms, and that ethnic minority status, perceived discrimination, and financial concerns were positively associated with depressive symptoms. Contrary to predictions, age, optimism, friendships, and school belonging were not significant predictors, and perseverance predicted increased depression in this sample. The novel findings provide implications for researchers, university administrators, and counselors.

Author Biographies

Fanyi Zeng, Wake Forest University, USA

Fanyi Zeng is a masters' student in the Psychology Department at Wake Forest University. Her current research focuses on close relationships, social support, coping, and interpersonal emotional regulation.

Nelson C. Brunsting, Wake Forest University, USA

Nelson C. Brunsting, PhD, is a research associate professor, the Director of Global Research and Assessment for the Center for Global Programs and Studies, and the Director for the Center for Research on Abroad and International Student Engagement at Wake Forest University. His research focuses on understanding and enhancing the development and well-being of diverse populations in academic contexts, including special education teacher burnout, students with emotional-behavioral challenges in schools with three-tiered models of prevention, and international student adjustment and engagement at U.S. universities

Nicole Brocato, Wake Forest University, USA

Nicole Brocato, PhD, is the Director of the Wellbeing Assessment at Wake Forest University. Her research focuses on creating inclusive and equitable models of wellbeing, identifying factors that support student belonging, and understanding patterns of association between wellbeing dimensions.

Lisa Kiang, Wake Forest University, USA

Lisa Kiang, PhD, is a professor in the Psychology Department at Wake Forest University. Her research is in self and identity, family and social relationships, and culture.

Eranda Jayawickreme, Wake Forest University, USA

Eranda Jayawickreme, PhD, is an associate professor in the Psychology Department and a senior research fellow at the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University. His research is in personality, post-traumatic growth, well-Being, character, and wisdom.

Sonali Kathuria, Wake Forest University, USA

Sonali Kathuria is a Research Coordinator for the Center for Global Programs and Studies at Wake Forest University. Her major research interests lie in the area of international education


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How to Cite

Zeng, F., Brunsting, N., Brocato, N., Kiang, L., Jayawickreme, E., & Kathuria, S. (2021). Biopsychosocial Factors Associated with Depression among U.S. Undergraduate International Students. Journal of International Students, 12(1).



Research Articles