Study conditions and (mental) health of university students: Further development and testing of the "Bielefelder questionnaire" Study conditions as an instrument for the mental health risk assessment of students and establishment of a university database

Project No. FF-FP 0460


completed 08/2023


The aim of the project was to use the Bielefeld Questionnaire on Study Conditions and (Mental) Health at a number of higher education institutions in Germany and to adapt it during the project period based on a practical experience, amongst others. It strived to identify organisational resources and stressors that are associated with the mental health of students at the organisations surveyed. Another goal was the creation of a university database on study conditions and health in order to derive cross-university prevention approaches from the collected data. Furthermore, the project aimed at evaluating hypothetical causation models. Overall, the aim was to (further) develop an environment-oriented approach for prevention at higher education institutions in Germany.


The questionnaire is made up as a learning instrument and was updated several times during the course of the project. At the beginning of the project, the questionnaire was pretested at one faculty of Bielefeld University (n=264 participants). After the first and second year of the project, the questionnaire was adapted and updated based on feedback from the universities surveyed. From May 2021 to February 2023, 24,533 students from 10 universities and 3 universities of applied sciences from 7 federal states in Germany were surveyed using the Bielefeld Questionnaire for Study Conditions (average response rate: 11.4%), which included 22 sections on study conditions and 8 outcomes (including 4 mental health outcomes). The participating universities were also interconnected as a university network, which was hosted eight times in total for a moderated collegial exchange.


The improved Bielefeld Questionnaire on Study Conditions has been tested very successfully in practice and is of high quality and applicability. A sustainable network of participating universities in a nationwide university network for collegial exchange could be implemented. The research project generated a comprehensive and meaningful dataset, allowing for robust conclusions that accurately reflect the broader German higher education landscape. Research Question 1 revealed significant associations between students’ mental health and academic and institutional conditions. Positive ratings of all examined conditions were linked to better mental health outcomes, particularly in terms of exhaustion. Research Question 2 investigated specific organizational factors associated with students' mental health. Time demands and examrelated challenges were strongly associated with all four mental health outcomes. Additionally, factors such as student collaboration, study entry phase, last study year, and the alignment of study contents/competency development showed significant relationships with mental health. Key needs for action from students’ perspective emphasized issues related to career prospects, time demands, and exams. Research Question 3 focused on adapting the Bielefeld Enterprise Model to study conditions. The study confirmed significant associations between the model’s conditions and outcomes, suggesting its effective applicability to study conditions.

Conclusion: With the tested questionnaire, a solid basis for the implementation of the status quo analysis within the framework of the Psychosocial Risk Appraisal (GB Psych), enabling the identification of stress factors with the help of university-specific measures and the implementation of sustainable concepts and programmes to reduce them and enhance resource factors.

Last Update:

4 Jan 2024


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Universität Bielefeld
  • Charité Berlin

education, science

Type of hazard:

mental stress factors


mental strain/stress

Description, key words:

Students, Bielefelder Questionnaire, Study conditions, university