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Predictors of UK postgraduate researcher attendance behaviours and mental health-related attrition intention

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posted on 2023-06-10, 05:30 authored by Clio BerryClio Berry, Jeremy NivenJeremy Niven, Cassie Hazell
High rates of postgraduate researchers (PGRs) terminate their studies early. This attrition can have detrimental personal consequences and results in a loss of productivity and research and innovation for the higher education sector and society as a whole. PGRs are vulnerable to the experience of mental health problems; a factor which appears to be increasing attrition amongst students in the UK. However, investigation of the factors that provoke problems with PGRs’ attendance and result in intention to discontinue their studies is rare. Here, we consider the relative predictive validity of a set of putative predictors (mental health symptoms, demographic, occupational, psychological, social, and relational) in explaining attendance behaviours (absenteeism, presenteeism, mental health-related intermission) and early attrition intention amongst UK PGRs. Depression, anxiety and suicidality predicted problems with attendance and greater attrition intention. Individual demographic and occupational factors predicted all outcomes. Psychological, social and relational factors had less predictive validity, although individual variables in these clusters did significantly predict some outcomes. Our results suggest that interventions to reduce high rates of mental health problems are likely to improve attendance, and reduce the extent to which PGRs intermit or consider ending their PhD studies for mental health-related reasons. Initiatives designed to improve supervisory relationships and reduce loneliness may also reduce absenteeism, intermission and attrition intention.


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Current Psychology: developmental - learning - personality - social




Springer Nature

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